Valparaiso claimed a two-goal lead in the 58th minute against Oral Roberts Sunday afternoon at Brown Field, but the Golden Eagles scored three unanswered goals as the Crusaders fell, 3-2, in non-league action.
“Obviously, it’s a really disappointing result because if you look at the stats and watched the game, we maybe deserved better today,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “Having said that, give credit to Oral Roberts. They hung around, and at the end of game we got a bit sloppy. We had some very tired legs and were missing quite a few players today to nagging injuries. It kind of all caught up to us in the last half hour of the game. Whenever you’re up two goals at home, you certainly don’t expect you’re going to give away three goals, and from our standpoint they were all soft mistakes that can easily be corrected and usually are by our team.”
In a first half that saw Valpo out-shoot Oral Roberts 8-2, the Crusaders were able to get on the board late in the opening stanza. Fifth-year senior Clayton Lyons (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) carried the ball in on a 2-on-1 in the 39th minute and let go a shot from outside the box that was stopped by ORU goalkeeper Nick Petolick. But the rebound bounced directly to freshman Gerardo Avelar (San Salvador, El Salvador/Colegio San Francisco), who had no problem hitting the wide-open net for the game's first tally.
Valpo made it a two-goal game in the 58th minute. In a scramble in the area following a corner kick, fifth-year senior Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake County/Marquette]) finally gained possession and slotted a shot from 10 yards out off the right-hand post and into the back of the net. Fifth-year senior Wei Ming Wong (Hong Kong/Hong Kong International [SMU]) and junior Stipo Zeba (Brookfield, Ill./Morton West) earned assists on the goal.
But the two-goal lead wouldn't be enough. Oral Roberts cut the deficit in half in the 64th minute, as a pair of Golden Eagles got behind the Valpo defense. Aaron Birk moved around Valpo goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) outside the top of the box and then laid a pass off to Jarrett Hamilton, who found the back of the open net for ORU's first goal. Then, in the 72nd minute, the Golden Eagles knotted the score on an own goal, as a Birk effort which was going wide was redirected into the back of the net by a Crusader defender.
The Golden Eagles scored the eventual match-winner in the 85th minute. Birk controlled the ball off a corner kick on the right flank and sent a pass along the ground into the 18-yard box. Hamilton was there to gain control, and the ORU striker turned and fired a shot from 15 yards out which went inside the far post for the match-winning tally.
Valparaiso out-shot Oral Roberts (4-7-0) 19-9 on the afternoon and put eight shots on goal to ORU's four. Zobeck made one save for Valpo, while Petolick stopped five shots and the Golden Eagles' backs also came up with a clearance off the line.
“Even though I’m disappointed in the final result, I’m certainly not disappointed with our guys,” said Avery. “I think they’ll rebound pretty well. We have a week off now to prepare for Ohio State next weekend, which should be an exciting game. Overall, I think we’re going to be fine; it was just a tough day at the office today.”
Valparaiso (5-5-2) has a week away from the pitch before returning to Brown Field. The Crusaders will host Ohio State on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 1 p.m, with live audio available on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and live video through the Horizon League Network. Links to both, as well as live stats, will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.