The Valparaiso men’s soccer team gave the fans all they could ask for and more as they won before a packed house in their home opener with a thrilling double-overtime victory over Western Illinois.
Freshman Jordan James (Hellshire, Jamaica/Wolmer’s Boys School) provided the offense as the spark off the bench, scoring both goals for the Crusaders. In the 104th minute he capitalized on a bad clear from Leathernecks goalkeeper Yves Dietrich, as he danced around Dietrich and sent home the game-winner.
James' header from deep in the box in the 68th minute from senior Eric Nieto (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Louisville Collegiate) tied the game and lifted the crowd of 600-plus to their feet. The goals were James’ second and third, respectively, of his young career.
"It was a night where we had to manufacture some energy since we were on the back end of two games in less than 48 hours," said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. "In that regard, it is a very satisfying result and I am proud of the boys."
Fifth-year senior Tom Serratore (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) got the nod for his first start of the year as he finished with one save to earn the fourth win of his career. The Brown and Gold played airtight defense in front of Serratore, allowing only two shots on goal and seven in all.
"We had enough quality in key moments, both with the ball and without, to find the goals we needed to win the game against a good WIU team." Avery said. "It's a good result and we now can look forward to the next one with some added confidence."
Western Illinois got on the board first when Alejandro Pacheco sent a shot just over the outstretched arms of Serratore from 20 yards out in the 32nd minute.
"It was a game that could have opened for us in the first half, but our best chance early in the half was well saved, and then they hit a stunning goal from distance," Avery said. "When we could have been feeling good about the game, instead we were chasing it, and that always makes the night interesting."
The Crusaders (3-1-2) return to action on Tuesday, September 22, when they welcome Loyola to Brown Field for a non-league match. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm CT, and live stats and video will be available through ValpoAthletics.com.
-Valpo Men’s Soccer-