Valparaiso (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders open 2013 campaign with a pair of games at the Mike Gibbs Memorial Tournament
Friday, Aug. 30 – 6:00 p.m. – Jacksonville, Fla. – at Jacksonville
Sunday, Sept. 1 – noon – Jacksonville, FL – at North Florida
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s side opens the 2013 regular season campaign with a pair of games in Jacksonville, Fla. this weekend. The Crusaders take on Jacksonville on Friday, Aug. 30, and then North Florida on Sunday, Sept. 1 at the Mike Gibbs Memorial Tournament.
Previously: The Crusader men wrapped up exhibition play on Monday, defeating Lewis 2-0 at Brown Field. The previous Saturday, Valpo traveled to Fort Wayne, Ind., where they defeated IPFW 2-1. The Crusader men finished preseason with a 2-0-0 record.
Following the Crusaders: Live stats will not be available for either game over the weekend. To follow the games, check out valpoathletics.com to view the box scores and post game summaries. Visit @VUMSO on Twitter to view comments and photos throughout the season. Over the course of the 2013 season, six matches will have free live video on the Horizon League Network, including three matches at home, while WVUR, Valpo’s student radio station, will also be broadcasting select matches.
Head Coach Mike Avery: A former Horizon League Coach of the Year, Mike Avery returns for his seventh season as the Crusaders’ manager. Avery has led the Crusaders to 44 wins, multiple winning seasons, and the program’s first-ever Horizon League Title. Under his watch, the program has seen 25 All-League selections, four Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year honorees, one Defensive Player of the Year selection, and one player sign an MLS contract with FC Dallas.
Series Notes: Having never previously met, this weekend marks the first time the Crusaders will take on the Jacksonville Dolphins and the North Florida Ospreys.
Scouting the Opposition: Jacksonville - After finishing with a record of 4-13-1 in 2012, the Dolphins were picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Having played no exhibition games in 2013, the Dolphins jump right into regular season play, facing the Crusaders in their first match of the season. The Dolphins return junior Matheus Saroli, a 2012 First Team All-Conference forward who led the Dolphins with 7 goals in the 2012 season.
North Florida - The Ospreys tied twice during exhibition play, drawing 0-0 with Georgia Southern and 3-3 with Rollins College. Former Atlantic Sun All-Freshman performer Alex Morrell continued where he left off a season ago, scoring two goals for the Ospreys in exhibition play. The Ospreys also return their leading point grabber from last year, Camilo Garcia (4g, 1a).
Staying Organized in the Back: In 2012, the Crusaders set the standard in the Horizon League and ranked 19th in the country in team goals against. Conceding only 17 goals in 20 games, the team achieved a GAA of just 0.81. Valpo will look to maintain a similar type of defensive dominance in 2013. Despite losing current MLS goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck, the Crusaders are confident about the current talent at the position. The team returns a mixture of youth and experience in the back. Led by veterans Mitch Albrecht, Yannick Iwunze, and Zev Taublieb, this group will also feature freshmen Adrian Graham and Omar Lawrence and transfer Jack McIver.
Finishing Chances: In 2013, the Crusader men will look to be more decisive in front of goal. Last season, the team was able to create plenty of chances in front of goal, averaging nearly six shots on goal per game. However, Valpo was only able to finish one of six chances per game, scoring 20 goals in 20 games. With the Crusaders returning several of the team’s leading goal scorers from a year ago, the 2013 season is primed for an increase in goal scoring. Valpo finished exhibition play on the right foot, scoring four goals in two games.
Early Start for Horizon League: The Crusaders begin their quest for the Horizon League title early in the 2013 season, as the Crusaders will face off against Oakland (Friday, September 6th) in just their third game of the season. Horizon League games are not normally played this early in the season; however, the schedule was set prior to Oakland joining the conference. The Crusaders are in need of a fast start as this game could prove to be significant down the road.
On the Road Again: Home games for the Crusaders will be few and far between this season. The team is set to play nine non-league and four league games away from Brown Field, highlighted by trips to Tulsa and Michigan to take on the #13 Golden Hurricane and #15 Wolverines. Crusader fans will need to jump at any chance they have to take in a home game, as they will be a rarity in 2013. The Crusaders will only have five opportunities this season to defend Brown Field. The men’s side is at home against IUPUI (Sep. 13), Milwaukee (Oct. 12), UIC (Oct. 26), Western Michigan (Oct. 30), and Detroit (Nov. 9).
Returning All-League Players: Eric Nieto, who earned Second Team All-League honors last season, is back for his junior year and was a preseason Second Team All-League selection by College Sports Madness. 2012 Horizon League All-Newcomer selection Jordan Aidoud returns for his sophomore season with the Crusaders as well. Aidoud led the team in points a season ago, finding the back of the net four times and assisting on three goals.
Champions in the Classroom: In 2012, Todd Vervynckt was selected to the Horizon League All-Academic team and the CoSIDA Academic All-American Third Team and All-District V First Team. Vervynckt is in the Mechanical Engineering program at Valparaiso.
Newcomers and Transfers: Adding to the players returning from last year’s squad are a handful of talented freshmen and transfer students. Rookies Nico Campbell, Adrian Graham, and Omar Lawrence join talented transfers Jacob Gandarilla, Jack McIver, and Julio Velasquez. The addition of this group of players will help to raise the level of play for the Crusaders.