Valparaiso (3-3-5, 0-1-2 Horizon)
Crusaders Continue League Play, Host #24 Milwaukee
Saturday, Oct. 12 – vs. Milwaukee (9-1-1, 2-1-0 Horizon) 7 p.m. CT
This Week in Crusader Soccer: After playing six consecutive games on the road, the Crusaders return home to Brown Field to host Milwaukee in a crucial Horizon League contest. Saturday night's match marks just the second home game of the season for the Crusader men.
Previously: The Crusaders return to action this weekend after drawing in each of their two previous matches. Last Saturday, the Crusaders picked up a league point on the road at Green Bay in a 0-0 draw. Valpo was able to create quality chances in the match but were unable to find goal. On Tuesday, the Crusaders found themselves in a similar match at Loyola Chicago. Chances to go up on the Ramblers were available, but again, those chances were left unfinished as the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
Following The Crusaders: Saturday's match against Milwaukee will have free live video available through the Horizon League Network. Live stats for the match will be available through ValpoAthletics.com. Over the course of the 2013 season, seven matches will have free live video on the Horizon League Network, including three matches at home. Visit @VUMSO on Twitter to view comments and photos leading up to Saturday night’s match.
Head Coach Mike Avery: A former Horizon League Coach of the Year, Mike Avery returns for his seventh season at the helm of the men’s soccer program. As the winningest head coach in the program’s history, Avery has led the Crusaders to 47 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: Milwaukee - Saturday night's contest will mark the tenth meeting between the Crusaders and Panthers. Valparaiso holds a 4-3-2 all time series advantage over Milwaukee. The two sides met twice last season - the first coming in the last Horizon League match of the season with the Panthers taking a 2-1 victory and the second coming in the Horizon League tournament where the Crusaders advanced on a 1-0 victory.
Scouting the Opposition: Milwaukee - Milwaukee enters Saturday's match at 9-1-1 and ranked #24 in the country. The Panthers are coming off of their first loss of the season after suffering a 2-1 overtime loss against Green Bay. Laurie Bell leads the Panther attack with eight goals and three assists for 19 total points. Robbie Boyd and Rami Younes each have three goals and five assists apiece. The Panthers have scored 25 goals in 11 games and are very dangerous in the attack. Additionally, nine players have at least one goal to their name. Milwaukee has only allowed nine goals this season, leaving Panther goalkeeper Liam Anderson with a 0.78 G.A.A.
Regionally Ranked: For two consecutive weeks, the Crusaders were ranked #10 in the NSCAA Great Lakes region. Valpo last appeared in the region rankings in October of 2011; the year the team won the Horizon League title. The Great Lakes region is widely considered to be one of the toughest regions in college soccer.
Reigning Defensive Player of the Week: Crusader goalkeeper Tom Serratore was named the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 30 to Oct. 6. Serratore earned his second shutout of the season and his career at Green Bay over the weekend. His performance in goal helped to secure an important league point for the Crusaders. Serratore made five saves in the 0-0 draw.
Freshman Milestones: Freshman goalkeeper Nico Campbell earned his first career shutout in a 0-0 draw at Loyola Chicago. Campbell made four saves for the Crusaders. After making a solid season debut as a substitute against Green Bay, freshman Kevin Klett earned his first career start at Loyola Chicago. Klett put in another solid performance, playing 70 minutes and forcing the Rambler goalkeeper to produce a goal saving stop.
A Tale of Two Halves: At times during this season, games have been a tale of two halves. In the first half of games, the Crusaders have been slow to start and are unable to find the game. As a result, the team has conceded early goals. In the second half of games however, the Crusaders look to be a completely different team. They control the run of play, keep the ball for extended periods of time, and create plenty of quality chances. In the second half of games, the Crusaders more than double their amount of goals scored (7 to 3) and shots taken (71-35), and double their amount of corners taken (28 to 16). The team also cuts down the number of chances their opponents take (26 to 16).
Finishing Chances: The Crusaders now sit with 11 goals scored for the season. Currently, the Crusaders are averaging exactly one goal per game. The team has added variety to the attack this season, as six players have each scored at least once. Adrian Graham, Julio Velasquez, and Jordan Aidoud each have one goal this season, while Todd Vervynckt has netted two goals to his name. Leading the team in goals this season are Charles Barden and Nick Suker with three goals apiece.
Another Ranked Opponent: The Crusaders have currently played three teams that were ranked in the Top 25 in the national rankings - all on the road. The Crusaders played #24 Michigan State, #12 Tulsa, and #19 Dayton. On Saturday, the Crusaders host Milwaukee, a side that is ranked #24 in the country. Valpo is 1-2-0 against Top 25 opponents - the win coming in a 2-1 victory over Michigan State.
Home Sweet Home: The Crusaders will have played 10 of 11 games on the road before returning home this Saturday to play a match at Brown Field. Saturday's league game against Milwaukee comes after having played six straight games on the road. The Crusaders are 2-3-5 on the road and 1-0-0 at home. Valpo will host three additional teams at Brown Field this year – UIC on October 25th, Western Michigan on October 30th, and Detroit on November 9th.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders will travel to Lexington, Ky. to take on the Wildcats in a midweek matchup on Oct. 16th. The Crusaders then return home for a two game home stand. Valpo will host Horizon League foe UIC on Oct. 12th, and Western Michigan on Oct. 30th. The Crusaders' last home game was played just over month ago when the team claimed a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over the visiting IUPUI Jaguars.
Champions in the Classroom: In 2012, Todd Vervynckt was selected to the Horizon All-Academic team, the CoSIDA Academic All-American Third team, and the All-District V first team. Vervynckt is in the Mechanical Engineering program at Valparaiso.