Valparaiso (1-6-2, 0-1-1 Horizon)
Crusaders host league battle on Homecoming Saturday
Saturday, Oct. 6 - 7 p.m. - Green Bay (2-7-2, 0-2-1 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Crusader men’s soccer team closes out a busy Homecoming Saturday on the Valparaiso campus under the lights at Brown Field, as they host Green Bay in a Horizon League showdown.
Previously: The Crusaders suffered a 1-0 defeat in Horizon League play last Saturday evening, falling at UIC on a 67th minute goal. Valpo out-shot the Flames by a 12-9 margin, but couldn’t find the back of the net as it fell to 0-1-1 in league action.
The Road Ahead: Valpo steps briefly away from league action to head back to Chicago to face DePaul on Tuesday, Oct. 9. The Crusaders then return to Brown Field for two straight contests, the first of which comes Saturday night, Oct. 13 in league action against Cleveland State.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will be broadcasting Saturday’s contest against the Phoenix live over its airwaves. The live audio can also be heard online at 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 is just 2-11-0 all-time against Green Bay, including a 1-5-0 mark since joining the Horizon League. The Phoenix have captured the last three matchups, including a 1-0 decision in overtime at Green Bay in last year’s regular season finale. In fact, of the five defeats the Crusaders have suffered versus Green Bay since joining the HL, four have come by the same 1-0 score.
Scouting the Opposition: Green Bay also enters Saturday’s contest with just one point in league play, sitting at 0-2-1 in the Horizon League and 2-7-2 overall. The Phoenix earned that one point last time out, drawing 2-2 with Milwaukee on Wednesday evening. Offensively, Kirby Allen has been a pair of four of Green Bay’s 11 goals (3g, 1a), while Alonso Flores and Sam Krenzien each boast two goals and an assist.
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.
Utilizing the Home Field: Valpo is looking for its first home win on Saturday since the regular season home opener on August 27, having gone 0-2-1 at Brown Field since that opening victory. The Crusaders, who entered this season with a home record of 21-11-7 under Avery’s guidance, have not gone four straight home fixtures without a victory since Oct. 12-Nov. 6, 2005.
Not For a Lack of Trying: It hasn’t been an absence of shot attempts that have kept the Crusaders from scoring recently. Over its last seven games, when it has scored a total of one goal, Valpo has out-shot its opponents 95-63, including twice (WIU, WMU) registering at least 10 more shots than its opponent. In fact, over their last 22 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 the heart of Horizon League play. With the one-goal decision against UIC last Saturday night, eight of nine games this year have been ties or one-goal decisions, following a 2011 season in which 16 of 20 games were that tight. In fact, Valpo has now had 36 of 42 Horizon League contests end as one-goal decisions or draws since joining the HL prior to the 2007 campaign.
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 eight goals through the first nine 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. As a team, Valpo ranks 41st nationally with a 0.85 GAA, while fifth-year senior goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck paces the Horizon League and sits 48th nationally with a 0.86 GAA of his own.
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.