Valparaiso (7-5-3, 3-0-1 Horizon)
Wednesday, Oct. 26 - 7 p.m. - at Loyola (3-10-1, 1-4-0 Horizon)
Saturday, Oct. 29 - 7 p.m. - UIC (7-4-3, 1-2-1 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso looks to remain atop the Horizon League table this week with a pair of contests against the league’s Chicago sides. The Crusaders travel to Loyola for a Wednesday night matchup before hosting UIC on Saturday evening.
Wrapping Up Last Week: It was two games and two 2-0 victories for the Crusaders last week. Valpo opened the week with a dominant performance in a two-goal victory over IPFW on Tuesday evening, getting goals from Wei Ming Wong and Todd Vervynckt. The Crusaders then won by an identical score in a key league contest against Milwaukee on Saturday thanks to markers from Kevin Miller and Charles Barden. Kyle Zobeck tallied shutouts in both games, breaking Valpo’s single-season shutout record in the process.
Following the Crusaders: Saturday’s game against UIC will feature a live audio broadcast on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats for both of this week’s contests can also be found at the official Valpo Athletics website.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery is in his fifth season at the helm of the Crusaders’ men’s soccer program, having led Valpo to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in program history. Avery, who currently owns 36 victories as head coach at Valpo, led the Crusaders to a 9-8-2 record last season, matching the second-most wins in a single season all-time at Valpo.
Series Notes: Loyola - 2-13-3 overall (0-3-2 under Avery); last meeting 1-0 Loyola @ Loyola 10/3/10 [Westberg 19’ for Loyola; Schwarz 5 saves; Valpo 0 SOG]
UIC - 2-16-2 overall (0-3-1 under Avery); last meeting 2-1 (2ot) UIC @ Valpo 10/31/10 [Antonijevic 63’ (Del Giudice assist); Frazier 4’, 106’ for UIC; Schwarz 21 min, 1 save; Zobeck 84 min, 4 saves]
Scouting the Opposition: Loyola - The Ramblers enter Wednesday’s contest at 3-10-1 overall this year and just 1-4-0 in HL play, but earned their first HL win last time out with an overtime win over Detroit. Loyola has scored just 11 times in 14 games, led by four goals from Brian Bement. Peter McKeown has seen the majority of time in goal and owns a 1.60 GAA.
UIC - The Flames enter the week at 7-4-3 overall and 1-2-1 in league action, with a game against Wright State set for Wednesday prior to the fixture against the Crusaders. UIC features the top two point scorers in the Horizon League in Ivan Stanisavljevic (8g, 5a) and Eric Frazier (7g, 2a). In goal, Piotr Kikolski has played nearly every minute, posting a 1.22 GAA this season.
Shutout Record: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck set a new Crusader single-season mark last week, shutting out IPFW and Milwaukee to give him eight clean sheets on the season, surpassing Ryan Schwarz’s previous record of seven from the 2009 season. Zobeck, who leads the Horizon League in both shutouts and goals against average (0.76), is now just two shutouts away from cracking the league’s single-season top-10. The junior now owns 15 career shutouts, second all-time in the Valpo annals and just two shy of Schwarz’s career record in the category. Zobeck has also now registered three straight shutouts and extended his scoreless streak in goal to 295 minutes.
The League Jumble: With the win over Milwaukee, Valpo improved its Horizon League record to 3-0-1 (10 pts.) and finds itself tied atop the league table with at least one game in hand on both sides it is tied with. Going into this week, five teams are within two points of the top spot, but the Crusaders have played the fewest number of games of any of those teams, needing just four fixtures to accumulate the ten points.
Home Field Advantage: Every year since Mike Avery’s arrival, the Crusaders have recorded at least a .500 record at home. Following the pair of wins last week, the Crusaders are 5-1-1 at home this year, improving Avery’s record at home to 20-11-5 (.625). Valpo still has a pair of Horizon League home contests remaining as well.
Helping Out: Senior forward Guy Shabtay has become known for his goal-scoring ability in his two years as a Crusader, but filled the distributor role against IPFW last Tuesday. Shabtay assisted on both of Valpo’s goals against the Mastodons, making him the first Crusader since Adrian Ortiz on Sept. 7, 2007 (also against IPFW) to tally multiple assists in the same game. Shabtay is now tied for team-high honors with three helpers this season.
There’s Almost Always Drama: Last week was an aberration for the Crusaders in terms of margin of victory. Despite the pair of two-goal wins, 11 of Valpo’s 15 games this year have been ties or one-goal decisions. The win over Milwaukee was Valpo’s first multi-goal decision of this year’s Horizon League slate, as the Crusaders have now had 30 of 36 Horizon League contests end as one-goal decisions or draws since joining the HL prior to the 2007 campaign.
Spreading the Wealth: Valpo’s four goals last week were scored by four different players, with Wei Ming Wong and Kevin Miller each picking up their first goal of the season. There have now been 13 different Crusaders to find the back of the net this year, as Valpo has tallied 22 goals through 15 games. Six different players have tallied multiple goals, led by a trio of markers from Avelar, Barden and Vervynckt, while seven more have added a goal apiece. In addition, all seven of Valpo’s victories have featured different players picking up the match-winning goal.
Record-Setting Performance: The Crusaders opened the season with a bang on Aug. 26, scoring eight goals in the 8-0 victory over Calumet. The eight goals marked a new program record for goals in a single game; previously seven, which was accomplished twice, most recently in 1995. The eight-goal winning margin also set a new team record in that category.
Crusaders Picked Fourth in Preseason Poll: The head coaches selected Valparaiso to finish in a tie for fourth place in the Horizon League this season according to the preseason poll. Only Butler, Cleveland State and Milwaukee were projected ahead of the Crusaders.