Valparaiso (1-4-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Horizon League play kicks off this weekend
Wednesday, Sept. 19 - 6:30 p.m. CDT - at IUPUI (2-6-1, 0-0-0 SL)
Saturday, Sept. 22 - 7 p.m. - Loyola (1-4-0, 0-0-0 Horizon) - Brown Field
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team looks to snap a four-match losing streak in its final contest prior to the start of league play Wednesday night at IUPUI. The Crusaders then return home to Brown Field Saturday night to face the Loyola squad which eliminated them from the Horizon League Championship last season.
Previously: Despite a 16-5 advantage in shot attempts, the Valparaiso men's soccer team couldn't find a goal on Friday night at Brown Field, falling to Western Michigan, 1-0. Valpo placed six shots on frame to just two for the Broncos in the one-goal loss. Kyle Zobeck made one save in the losing effort.
The Road Ahead: Horizon League play continues each of the next two Saturdays following the league opener against the Ramblers. Valpo travels to UIC on September 29 before returning to Brown Field to take on Green Bay on October 6.
Following the Crusaders: The Loyola match will be broadcast live on Valpo’s campus radio station, WVUR (95.1 FM), with the live audio also available online at www.valpoathletics.com. In addition, live stats for both matches can be accessed through the official Crusader website.
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: Former rivals in the Mid-Con, Valpo and IUPUI have met 18 times on the pitch, with the Crusaders owning an 11-6-1 edge in the all-time series. Valpo has won three in a row, all by one goal, including a 1-0 win at Brown Field last season thanks to a Eric Nieto goal in the 63rd minute. The Crusaders are just 3-13-4 all-time against Loyola, but earned results in both meetings last year. However, the scoreless draw came in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship, and the Ramblers eventually advanced in a seven-round penalty kick shootout, 5-4. Earlier in the season, Charles Barden had the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Loyola in Chicago.
Scouting the Opposition: IUPUI enters Wednesday’s fixture at 2-6-1, most recently drawing 2-2 with UIC and falling 2-0 to Wisconsin last weekend. Kyle Hyland has scored five of the Jaguars’ nine goals this season. Loyola is just 1-4-0 so far in 2012 and plays Eastern Illinois on Tuesday prior to the league opener Saturday night. Andrew Raymonds is responsible for three of the Ramblers’ five goals on the year.
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.
A Rough Stretch: The Crusaders enter this week’s action on a four-match losing streak, the longest for the program since dropping four straight from Sept. 28-Oct. 11, 2008. But Valpo hasn’t been on the wrong end of a blowout during the most recent stretch, as all four games have been one-goal decisions, the first time in program history the Crusaders have lost four straight games all by one goal.
Not For a Lack of Trying: It hasn’t been an absence of shot attempts that have kept the Crusaders from winning recently. Over their last four games, Valpo has out-shot its opponents 48-32, including twice (WIU, WMU) registering at least 10 more shots than its opponent. In fact, over their last 19 matches dating back to last season, the Crusaders have been out-shot just once (UC Santa Barbara).
There’s Almost Always Drama: Close games are to be expected for the Crusaders as they enter Horizon League play Saturday night. So far this year, five of six games have been ties or one-goal decisions, following a 2011 season in which 16 of 20 games were that tight. In fact, Valpo has had 34 of 40 Horizon League contests end as one-goal decisions or draws since joining the HL prior to the 2007 campaign.
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 September 7 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 six goals through the first six 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.