The Valparaiso men’s soccer team saw its 2012 campaign come to a close on Friday, as the Crusaders fell 1-0 to Cleveland State in Horizon League Championship semifinal action in Detroit, Mich.
“We just want to congratulate Cleveland State on their win and wish them luck in the final,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “They have had a great season, and in many ways have been the best team in the league all season. They were very good today, found the goal they needed and then were able to defend and handle our pressure.”
The game’s lone goal came in the 35th minute of play, as the Vikings’ Admir Suljevic scored his fifth goal of the season off an assist from Cristian Arboleda. Valpo held a 9-4 advantage in shots, including a 5-1 edge in the second half, but could not break through for the tying tally. Brad Stuver made five saves in goal for second-seeded Cleveland State (10-5-3), while fifth-year senior Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) made a pair of saves in his final collegiate contest.
Zobeck was one of ten seniors who saw his career come to an end on Friday, joined by Jaymie Bullard, Elliott Coelho, Tyler Eliasen, Sam Haines, Jordan Lewis, Andy Lynn, Kevin Miller, Jon Smith, and Stipo Zeba. The group helped Valparaiso to 34 victories over their four years with the Crusaders, including the Horizon League regular season title in 2011.
“I was really proud of our guys today,” said Avery. “We played with great energy and gave everything that we had. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short, but ultimately you can only put your best effort forward, and that’s what we did today. It was a great season in terms of perseverance - our guys have shown great character. Our seniors led us from day one through some dark times, and really put on a great performance the second half of the season. I’m proud of them and the careers we had, and we are all going to miss them a great deal.”