Valparaiso (1-3-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Return home to Brown Field for Senior Night
Friday, Sept. 14 - 7:30 p.m. - Brown Field
Western Michigan (5-1-0)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team returns home to Brown Field this Friday evening for its lone match of the week, as the Crusaders host Western Michigan. It will be ‘Veterans Honoring Veterans’ night, as Valpo celebrates its senior class of ten players on Friday while also recognizing veterans of military service.
Previously: The Crusaders flew out to California last weekend for a pair of matches, but came up one goal short in each contest. Valpo led #9 UC Santa Barbara at the half on Friday night on a Todd Vervynckt goal, but eventually fell, 2-1. The Crusaders then lost at Cal Poly, 1-0, on a 33rd minute goal by the Mustangs.
The Road Ahead: The Crusaders’ final non-league fixture before the start of Horizon League play awaits next Wednesday, as Valpo plays at IUPUI. The Crusaders then open up the league slate at Brown Field on Saturday night, looking for revenge against the Loyola squad which eliminated them from last year’s Horizon League Championship.
Following the Crusaders: The Western Michigan match is the first of three from Brown Field that will have live video webcasts this year through the Horizon League Network, while the live audio will be broadcast on WVUR (95.1 FM). Links for the live video and audio, as well as live stats, will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.
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: One of Valpo’s most common opponents all-time, the Crusaders and Broncos have met 20 times since the start of the series in 1986, with WMU holding a 12-7-1 advantage. Valpo had won three in a row prior to last season’s meeting in Kalamazoo on Sept. 18, an outing the Broncos won 2-0.
Scouting the Opposition: Western Michigan enters Friday’s contest at 4-1-0 on the season, with its only loss coming last Thursday to Canisius. The Broncos, who are ranked seventh in the NSCAA Great Lakes region, have out-scored their opponents this year, 10-2, with three players scoring two goals apiece. Ryan Lemasters has tallied twice and also picked up three assists to lead the way. Sean Lewis has played all but 45 minutes in goal and owns a 0.44 GAA.
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.
The Senior Class: The Crusaders will recognize their senior class on Friday, honoring the efforts of Jaymie Bullard, Elliott Coelho, Tyler Eliasen, Sam Haines, Jordan Lewis, Andy Lynn, Kevin Miller, Jon Smith, Stipo Zeba and Kyle Zobeck. Over their careers, Valpo has enjoyed three straight winning seasons after finishing above .500 just once before their arrival. The group also helped the Crusaders to the Horizon League regular season championship in 2011.
Return to the Home Grounds: Valpo returns to Brown Field Friday night to face Western Michigan and looks to utilize its home-field advantage in its favor against the Broncos. Since FieldTurf was installed on Brown Field in 2008, the Crusaders own a 17-8-5 record on the surface, including a program-best home mark of 6-1-3 last season.
Vervynckt Finds the Net: Junior Todd Vervynckt became the first Crusader to score goals in multiple games this year when he tallied in the first half at #9 UC Santa Barbara on Friday. Vervynckt, who is tied for the team lead with Andy Lynn with two goals and five points, now leads all active Crusaders with five career goals.
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 five goals through the first five games. Valpo gave up more than one goal for the first time in 12 games at #9 UC Santa Barbara, something that has happened just eight times since the start of the 2010 campaign. In addition, since the beginning of that season, the Crusaders have surrendered more than two goals just once.
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.