Valparaiso (1-0-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders host former Mid-Con foe Sunday
Sunday, Sept. 2 - Brown Field - 1 p.m. - Western Illinois (1-2-0)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team closes out a brief two-match homestand with a rare afternoon game at Brown Field, hosting former Mid-Con rival Western Illinois at 1 p.m. this Sunday. The Crusaders are looking to extend their unbeaten streak to three matches to open the 2012 season.
Previously: Valpo earned a pair of results to open the 2012 campaign. The Crusaders opened the season on the road at Big Ten foe Michigan State and battled to a scoreless draw before returning home to defeat Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) 6-1 on Monday evening in the home opener.
The Road Ahead: The Crusaders fly to the West Coast next week, playing a pair of matches in California. Valpo will take on UC Santa Barbara on Friday night before meeting Cal Poly on Sunday afternoon.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR, Valpo’s campus radio station, will be broadcasting Sunday’s match against the Leathernecks live over its airwaves. The broadcast is the first of eight WVUR is scheduled to carry this fall. The live audio can also be heard on www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live stats.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery returns for his sixth season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program after being named Horizon League Coach of the Year and guiding the team to the league regular season championship in 2011. Avery, who owns 39 victories as Crusader head coach, has led Valpo to three of the four winningest seasons in program history over the last three years. Under his watch, 21 players have earned All-League accolades, including three Goalkeeper of the Year honorees and one Defensive Player of the Year.
Series Notes: Valpo faces its most common opponent all-time when Western Illinois comes to town on Sunday. The Crusaders and Leathernecks have met 25 times on the pitch, with WIU holding a 17-6-2 advantage in the all-time series. The most recent matchup came last season in Macomb on Oct. 2, when a 44th minute goal gave the Leathernecks a 1-0 victory.
Scouting the Opposition: Western Illinois enters Sunday’s contest at 1-2-0 on the young season, dropping 1-0 decisions to Graceland and Central Arkansas before most recently defeating DePaul, 2-1. Austin Gochneaur registered both goals in the win over the Blue Demons for WIU, while Yves Dietrich has played every minute in goal so far in 2012.
Crusaders Picked Third in Preseason Poll: Valparaiso picked up the most first-place votes of any Horizon League team en route to being chosen to finish in third place during the 2012 season, according to preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. The Crusaders earned three of the eight first-place votes. Only Wright State and Cleveland State were selected ahead of Valpo.
Looking Back at 2011: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team captured the university’s first Horizon League regular season championship in any sport, as well as the soccer program’s first conference title since 1998, by going 9-6-5 overall and 5-1-2 in Horizon League action. The Crusaders had seven players earn postseason accolades from the Horizon League and boasted the league’s Coach of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Strong Defense: Under Avery’s direction, last year’s Crusader squad continued to be strong in the back, surrendering just 14 goals on the season to set a new program single-season record for fewest goals allowed. This year’s team has lived up to the task so far, giving up just one goal through the first two games. In fact, dating back to last season, Valpo has given up one goal or fewer in 10 consecutive fixtures, a stretch which includes seven shutouts by Kyle Zobeck and the Crusaders.
Goals Galore: Valpo’s six-goal output against Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) last Monday ranks among the top offensive matches in program history. The six goals are tied for fourth-most in a single contest and rank as the second-most in the last 17 years. Seven Crusaders teamed up for the six goals against the Pumas.
So Nice, Lynn Did It Twice: Fifth-year senior Andy Lynn picked up his first career assist as a junior, but had never found the back of the net until Monday, when he accounted for Valpo’s fourth goal in the 61st minute. Then, Lynn tallied again with a minute to play, making him the first Crusader with a multi-goal game since Zack Stivers scored twice against Western Michigan on Oct. 20, 2010.
Lending a Helping Foot: Sophomore Eric Nieto picked up a goal during his rookie campaign, but had not registered an assist until he posted a pair against the Pumas. Nieto earned a helper on the tying goal in the 21st minute, and then assisted on Valpo’s third goal of the game in the 43rd minute. The pair of assists tie Nieto for the second-most assists in a single game in program history.
Making Their Debuts: Eight Crusaders made their regular season debut in the opening weekend of play. Five players debuted against Michigan State, with Jesse Ortiz and Mitch Albrecht part of the starting XI, while Jordan Aidoud, Daniel Killen and Yannick Iwunze making appearances off the bench. Then against St. Joe’s, Erik Boyer, Ben Burnett and Tom Serratore all made their first varsity appearance for Valpo.