Valparaiso (1-1-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
West Coast swing in store this weekend
Friday, Sept. 7 - Santa Barbara, Calif. - 9:30 p.m. CDT - at #9/9 UC Santa Barbara (2-0-1)
Sunday, Sept. 9 - San Luis Obispo, Calif. - 4 p.m. CDT - at Cal Poly (1-2-0)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team travels to the Golden State for the first time since 2006 this weekend, playing a pair of matches in California. The Crusaders will take on the nation’s ninth-ranked team in UC Santa Barbara on Friday night before facing Cal Poly on Sunday afternoon.
Previously: A goal in the seventh minute proved to be the difference Sunday afternoon at Brown Field, as the Valparaiso men's soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision to visitng Western Illinois. The Crusaders outshot the Leathernecks, 14-4, but could not find the tying tally.
The Road Ahead: Valpo has two more non-league contests left on the schedule before opening Horizon League play, as the Crusaders host Western Michigan on Friday, Sept. 14 and travel to IUPUI on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Following the Crusaders: Live video of the UC Santa Barbara match will be available for free through the Big West website, with a link to the video posted on www.valpoathletics.com. The Valpo Athletics website will also have links to live stats for both matches.
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: The Crusaders have made this same California swing once before, accounting for their only prior meeting against both schools. Valpo lost at UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 1, 2000, 4-0, and fell at Cal Poly on Sept. 3, 1-0.
Scouting the Opposition: UC Santa Barbara enters this weekend ranked ninth nationally and is 2-0-1 on the season, most recently winning at Gonzaga, 3-0. The Gauchos have scored seven goals through three games, led by two apiece from Achille Campion and Nic Ryan, while Austin Mansker owns a GAA of 0.93. Cal Poly sits at 1-2-0 and earned its first victory last time out, 3-1 at San Jose State. Three different players have scored goals so far for the Mustangs, while Chase Hauser and Wade Hamilton have split time in goal.
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.
Facing a Ranked Foe: Valpo’s game at #9 UC Santa Barbara marks the sixth straight season that the Crusaders have faced at least one nationally-ranked squad. It will be the Crusaders’ first match against a top-ten team since falling in overtime, 1-0, at #8/10 USF in 2009. Under Avery, Valpo is just 1-8-2 against ranked opponents, but three of the defeats came in extra time and only two were by more than one goal. The Crusaders remain strong defensively against the nation’s best sides, as they’ve surrendered just 13 goals in their 11 fixtures against top-25 sides under Avery.
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 two goals through the first three games. In fact, dating back to last season, Valpo has given up one goal or fewer in 11 consecutive fixtures, a stretch which includes seven shutouts by Kyle Zobeck and the Crusaders.
Shots Shots Shots Everybody: Valpo out-shot Western Illinois last Sunday, 14-4, continuing an impressive streak. The Crusaders have not been out-shot by their opponent since all the way back on Sept. 18 of last season against Western Michigan (12-8), a stretch of 16 consecutive matches.
Goals Galore: Valpo’s six-goal output against Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) 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 his apperance off the bench against Saint Joseph’s (Ind.), 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.