The Valparaiso men's soccer team earned a point in its Horizon League opener on Saturday evening, dueling to a scoreless double-overtime draw with Loyola on a cool night at Brown Field.
"While we are maybe a bit disappointed we weren't able to get more out of the game, I am proud of our performance and happy to take an important point for the league race," said Crusader head coach Mike Avery.
Valpo dominated the opening 45 minutes, not surrendering a shot attempt to the visiting Ramblers while tallying seven shots of its own. The Crusaders had a golden opportunity off a corner kick in the 32nd minute, but the header attempt went off the crossbar and bounced straight back down, just outside the goal line. Loyola netminder Peter McKeown also made three first-half saves to keep the game scoreless.
The second half saw both sides put a number of attempts on goal, as Valpo goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) had to stop four shots to maintain the shutout while McKeown made three more stops. The Crusaders had one last effort right before time expired, but the shot was well high as the game went into extra time.
After a scoreless first overtime period, the best scoring chance for either side on the night came in the 104th minute. The Crusaders had a set piece deep in the attacking third, but a clearance turned into a counter for the Ramblers. Loyola's Brian Bement was played in past the final defender, leaving him one-on-one with Zobeck, who came 30 yards off his line to cut down the angle. Bement's chip avoided Zobeck's body, but ultimately rolled harmlessly over the goal line, just right of the right-hand post.
Zobeck ended the night with five saves to earn his second clean sheet of the year, while McKeown stopped six shots for Loyola (1-5-1, 0-0-1). Valpo closed with a 15-9 advantage in shot attempts and earned four corners to the Ramblers' three.
"Loyola did a good job at sitting back with 11 players in their half for long stretches, and as the game wore on they were able to dangerously counter out of that," said Avery. "Had we scored early and encouraged them to open up a bit more, the game might have looked quite different. Our Achilles' heel so far this season has been our finishing, but once again tonight we created many good chances and even hit another cross bar, so we know that the goals will eventually come."
Valparaiso (1-5-2, 0-0-1) travels to Chicago next Saturday night for a 7 p.m. match at UIC. Live stats for the fixture will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.