The Valparaiso men’s soccer team picked up three points on the road Sunday afternoon in a crucial Horizon League matchup, scoring a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes despite playing a man down to defeat Detroit by a 2-0 final.
“This was obviously a real good win for us today, in an important game with a lot at stake in the league race,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “It was an interesting game – Detroit entered at the top of the table, fighting to stay there, while we're trying to fight to get into the top-six – so both teams had a lot riding on today’s game.”
The Crusaders and Titans played a scoreless first three quarters of an hour. Detroit tallied eight shot attempts to Valpo’s four in the first half and had all five corner kicks in the opening period, but both sides put two shots on goal, both of which were saved, on Valpo’s side by fifth-year senior Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) and by Nathan Steinwascher for Detroit. Valpo’s job got tougher just two minutes before halftime, as a red card was shown to one of the Crusaders’ field players, meaning they would be down to ten men for the remainder of the game.
Despite the sending off, Valpo remained the aggressor and dominated the second half of play despite being down a man. In fact, the Crusaders did not permit Detroit to record a shot attempt in the second half while tallying 11 shot attempts on their side, five of which were on goal. But it would take Valpo until the 82nd minute to finally claim the lead, with the eventual match-winner coming courtesy of sophomore Nick Suker (Downers Grove, Ill./South). Junior Jordan Aidoud (L’isled’Abeau, France/CEFAM) sent a cross into the box that Suker met with a diving header to get off the mark for the Crusaders and give Valpo the 1-0 advantage.
The Crusaders would not settle for the one-goal lead, however, continuing to push forward. Valpo registered a pair of shot attempts and a corner kick in the two minutes following the goal, and eventually found an insurance marker in the 86th minute. Junior Todd Vervynckt (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth) played a pass in deep to sophomore Eric Nieto (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Louisville Collegiate [Ky.] H.S.), and the latter finished his second goal in as many games to secure the win for the visiting side.
“We came out and played well today, and then faced a lot of adversity when we went down a man on a red card just before halftime,” said Avery. “I was proud of the way we responded – really, in the time we were a man down, we outplayed Detroit, created all the chances and looked like we were the team which was a man up.”
Zobeck needed to make just the two first-half saves to secure the clean sheet, his fourth of the season, while Steinwascher closed the game with five stops for Detroit (7-7-0, 3-1-0 Horizon). Valpo ended the game with a 15-8 advantage in shots over the Titans as well.
“I’m really excited about the win and really proud of the team,” said Avery. “Our guys have faced a lot of adversity all season long, and now that we're on the other side of it, we’re excited going forward. We have a big game coming up Wednesday night against Wright State, and I know our guys will be up for that one.”
Valparaiso (3-6-5, 1-1-3 Horizon) returns home to Brown Field for its final home game of the 2012 regular season on Wednesday evening in Horizon League play against Wright State. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m., and all the action can be seen live on the Horizon League Network and heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links for the live video and audio, as well as live stats, will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.