Valparaiso played step-for-step with regionally-ranked Ohio State, eventually earning a 0-0 draw in double overtime on a breezy fall day Sunday afternoon at Brown Field.
“Obviously when you draw against a Big Ten school like Ohio State, it’s a good result for our team,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “I am proud of the way we played today. I do think the entire group feels a little disappointed, as they felt we created enough chances to get even more out of the game. I thought we defended really well, especially on set pieces and throw-ins, plays which Ohio State is very dangerous on.”
With the wind blowing straight left to right across the field, each team would have 45 minutes with the wind at their backs, and it was the Crusaders who started the game in such a position. Going with the wind, Valpo out-shot the Buckeyes in the first half 8-2 and put four shots on goal, all of which were stopped by OSU goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
The best chance in the opening stanza came inadvertently off the foot of Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson) in the 23rd minute. 70 yards from goal, Antonijevic sent a long, high lead pass into the offensive zone, but the ball carried in the wind, bounced once inside the 18-yard box and looked destined for the upper-right corner until Lampson leapt to make the save and keep the game scoreless. The contest remained scoreless into halftime, as Valpo goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) had to make just one stop in the opening 45 minutes.
With the roles reversed, Ohio State put more pressure on the Crusaders offensively in the second half, out-shooting Valpo 6-3 in the second 45 minutes. The Valpo back line remained strong, however, blocking a number of the shot attempts, while Zobeck had to make just one save to keep OSU off the board. None of Valpo’s shot attempts in the second half were on frame, and after nothing came of an Ohio State corner in the waning seconds, the game went to extra time.
Valpo played with the wind at its back in the first of the two 10-minute overtime sessions and controlled play with a trio of shots to none for Ohio State. The game’s best scoring opportunity came in the 97th minute, as a cross into the area found the head of Wei Ming Wong (Hong Kong/Hong Kong International [SMU]) on the edge of the six-yard box. Wong’s header was directed just underneath the crossbar, but a leaping punch by Lampson knocked the ball over the bar and out for a corner. Off the ensuing corner, Guy Shabtay (Ramat-Gan, Israel/Blich [Prairie State C.C.]) had a hard blast from the left side that was blocked by a Buckeye defender.
Ohio State went with the wind in the second overtime and had the only real scoring chance of the final period of play. The Buckeyes earned a corner kick in the 109th minute, which was sent into the box by Austin McAnena. Kenny Cunningham got his head on the ball, but his header didn’t have much juice on it and Zobeck made the easy stop to secure the clean sheet and the draw.
On the game, Valpo out-shot Ohio State (7-5-2) by a 14-9 margin and put five shots on goal to the Buckeyes’ three. Zobeck made three saves to earn his sixth shutout of the season, tied for second-most in a single year in Valpo history and just one off the record. The junior also now has 13 career shutouts, alone in third place in the Crusader annals and just one shy of Jeff Oleck in second position. Lampson stopped all five Valpo attempts to earn a clean sheet of his own as well.
“I thought that we got great performances from our freshmen today,” said Avery. “Zev Taublieb (Malibu, Calif./Agoura) made his first start of the year and played almost the entire game. He was very, very solid for us sitting in the midfield today. Eric Nieto (Louisville, Ky./Louisville Collegiate) gave us great contributions in a lot of different roles today as well, as we were moving him into a number of different positions. We have a terrific freshman class, not just Zev and Eric but a number of others as well, and they’re starting to really show how their work is paying off now as the season wears on.”
Valparaiso (5-5-3) has a quick turnaround before returning to non-league action, as the Crusaders host IPFW at Brown Field on Tuesday evening. That game, scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, can be seen live on the Horizon League Network and heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso. Links for both broadcasts, as well as live stats, will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.
“We feel good coming out of today with a good result, and we’re looking forward to playing again Tuesday against IPFW,” said Avery. “As we talked about with our team after the game, both this and Tuesday’s game are preparing us for our final five league games. Everything we’re doing right now is looking towards the league homestretch.”