Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) recorded his third straight shutout en route to setting Valparaiso’s single-season record in the category and the Crusaders got a pair of second-half goals to down Milwaukee, 2-0, Saturday evening at Brown Field. The win moves Valpo into a tie atop the Horizon League table, with games in hand on both sides it’s tied with.
“This is a really good win for us today,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “I didn't feel like we were very sharp in the first half, but then I thought in the second half our midfield really got a hold of the game. I thought Zev Taublieb (Malibu, Calif./Agoura), Kevin Miller (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) and Jonathan Smith (McKinney, Texas/McKinney) – that trio’s defensive work was what really turned the tide of the game for us. To limit an attacking-minded team like Milwaukee to zero shots in in the second half is a pretty good accomplishment.”
Zobeck’s clean sheet was his eighth of the year to move past Ryan Schwarz’s 2009 mark of seven shutouts alone atop the Crusaders’ single-season chart in the category. Zobeck, who now has 15 career shutouts, had to make just one save in a clean sheet for the fourth time this year, as the entire Valpo lineup put together another strong defensive performance. The Crusaders limited Milwaukee to just six shots, none of which came in the game’s final 50 minutes, and were the first side to shut out the Panthers this season.
“I thought again that Kyle, even though he only made one actual save, dealt well with a lot of balls in the box on crosses and free kicks,” said Avery. “He really did a lot more than what shows up in the stat line today. It’s no surprise that we got another shutout, because Kyle, along with Wei Ming Wong (Hong Kong/Hong Kong International [SMU]) and Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake County/Marquette]), really held down the fort for us defensively tonight.”
Valpo finally cracked the scoreboard Saturday in the 61st minute. Inside the 18-yard box, Miller let go a shot past a challenging John Shakon that rattled off the crossbar. But the rebound fell right back to the feet of Miller, and with Shakon out of position for the Panthers, it was an easy finish for the Crusader junior midfielder. Miller tallied his first goal of the season on the play, giving the Crusaders 13 different goal-scorers this season, while it was his second career marker.
The Crusaders then got a key insurance tally in the 75th minute. Kelvin Zelee (South Bend, Ind./John Adams [Indiana]) sent a through ball to a sprinting Charles Barden (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Linn-Mar) in the offensive zone. Faced with a charging Shakon, Barden chipped the ball over the Milwaukee keeper from 20 yards out as the duo collided. No defender was on the back line for the Panthers, as the chip was perfectly executed and found the back of the net to give Valpo a 2-0 lead which would stand up. Barden’s tally was his third of the year, tying him for team-high honors, while Zelee picked up his first career assist on the play.
Valpo out-shot Milwaukee (5-7-2, 2-2-2 Horizon) on the evening by a 13-6 count, including 6-0 in the final three quarters of an hour. The Crusaders also earned the game’s only two corner kicks. Shakon made five saves in goal for the Panthers in the losing effort.
Valparaiso (7-5-3, 3-0-1 Horizon) faces a key league battle on the road this coming Wednesday, as the Crusaders make the short trip up to Chicago to take on Loyola. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., and live stats for the contest will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.