Crusaders Host Oakland in Regular Season Finale
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Valparaiso (8-5-4) (3-3-1 HL)
Friday, November 7, 2014, 7:30 pm – Valparaiso, Ind. – vs. Oakland
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team takes on second-place Oakland in their last match of the regular season on Friday night at Brown Field.
Previously on the Pitch: Valpo went 0-2 last week, losing to IPFW at home last Wednesday, 1-0, before dropping a heartbreaker to Green Bay on the road in overtime last Saturday, 2-1.
Following the Crusaders: Friday’s match will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com, as well as a live audio broadcast on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) and online. Over the course of the 2014 season, four matches will have free live video on the Horizon League Network, and WVUR, Valpo’s student radio station, will also be broadcasting select matches.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery is in his eighth season at Valpo, with 57 wins to his credit. The 2011 Horizon Coach of the Year led the Brown and Gold to their first-ever conference title in the same season and has posted seven of the top-10 defensive seasons in program history over his first seven seasons. The third coach in Valpo’s history, he owns the best winning percentage and second-most wins in program history. He has coached four Goalkeeper of the Year honorees during that stretch, and has also seen one goalkeeper (Kyle Zobeck) and one defender (Stefan Antonijevic) selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft and go on to play professional soccer.
Series Notes: Oakland – This will be the 13th time the Crusaders and Golden Grizzles will meet on the pitch in a series that first took place in 1998. Oakland ended Valpo’s season last year in the Horizon League quarterfinals in Rochester, Mich., winning 2-1. Nick Suker scored the lone goal for the Crusaders, while Tom Serratore made three saves. In the regular season, the Brown and Gold fought to a 1-1 double overtime draw in Rochester as well.
Scouting the Opposition: Oakland – The Golden Grizzles come to Brown Field with a 7-6-2 record and sit in second place in the Horizon League with a 5-0-2 mark. Matt Dudley leads the team with nine points and three goals in 15 games, while Wes Mink has only given up 12 goals all year en route to posting a .87 goals against average and 7-4-2 record, while recording six shutouts.
Scouting Ahead: The 2014 Horizon League Men’s Soccer Championships begins on Monday, Nov. 10. As it stands right now, Valpo enters as the fifth seed and would travel to fourth seed Cleveland State. If they would win, they would advance to the semi-finals and face either Oakland or Detroit.
Raising Awareness: Valpo will be using Friday night’s home match as its annual benefit game for They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO). Last year, the Crusaders raised over $3,000 at the match and used the donations to help send 150 new bicycles and helmets for the annual TOCO Toy Drive which benefits underprivileged children in St. Lucia and provided them with Christmas gifts they might not have otherwise received. In addition to preparing for the 2014 TOCO Toy Drive, funds raised this year will also go to help in TOCO's new venture, the TOCO Permaculture Program, and in specific the establishment of a sustainable school garden where many of the nutritional needs of the school's elementary children will be grown right on the school's campus. Donations will be collected at the gate. In addition, TOCO items and #oneVALPO shirts will be on sale with all proceeds going to TOCO.
Top of the League: The Crusaders find themselves at the top of Horizon League in goals allowed (15) and goals against average (.81). They are also third in goals with 21.
Senior Spotlight: Throughout the season, the team will honor a senior player at selected home games. This week they will celebrate captain and midfielder Zev Taublieb and defenseman Zane Wold, in their final regular season game against Oakland. Last week they recognized senior midfielder Nick Suker and defenseman Jacob Unger.
Future Looks Bright: Freshman midfielders Ramone Howell and Stian Sandbekkhaug were each named to Top Drawer Soccer’s National Top 100 freshman players. Howell cracked the top-50 at 42 and Sandbekkhaug checks in at 87. Valpo is the only Horizon League member with more than one representative.
National Recognition: A number of Crusader players have made appearances on weekly national teams. Goalkeeper Nico Campbell and midfielder Zev Taublieb were each named to College Soccer News National Team of the Week on Sept. 15 and 29, respectively. Midfielder Jordan Aidoud was named to Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week on Oct. 13 after scoring three goals in two games.
League Awards Piling Up: The Brown and Gold have had several players win the Horizon League Player of the Week awards. Nico Campbell and defenseman Omar Lawrence have each won the Defensive side, while Zev Taublieb and Jordan Aidoud have garnered the Offensive award.
Protecting the Net: Through 17 games this season, the Brown and Gold have only allowed 15 goals while playing stifling defense. They are 35th in the nation in team goals against average with a .81.
Comeback Kids: The Crusaders’ come-from-behind win against Wright State was the first two-goal comeback in the Mike Avery era and their first comeback win since Sept. 27, 2006 when they beat Evansville 5-4.
Five is the Magic Number: Five second half goals powered Valpo past Wright State last Friday, the most goals scored since a 5-2 win against Western Illinois on Sept. 22, 2013. It was also the most goals scored in a half since the Crusaders scored five in an 8-0 win on Aug. 26, 2011 against Calumet and the most in any Horizon League game. It was also the most in any conference match since Nov. 1, 1998 when they beat Western Illinois 5-4 in a Mid-Continental Conference game.
Non-Conference Schedule Paying Off: The Crusaders faced a challenging non-league schedule this year, and are now seeing the fruits of their labor through league play. They took to the road against several big time opponents, including then #7 Michigan State, Northwestern and Davidson. The Spartans’ only losses have been to the Crusaders, Ohio State, Oakland and Michigan. They are ranked 21st in the NSCAA/ Continental Tire NCAA Division I Men’s National Poll. Northwestern is 8-3-5, third in the Big Ten and ranked 16th in the NSCAA poll. Davidson upset #2 Virginia on Sept. 24.
Sparks Off the Bench: Freshman forwards Jordan James and Stian Sandbekkhaug have made the most of his opportunities coming off the bench. They are both tied for second on the team in goals with three. Two of James’ goals have been match-winners, against Butler and in the home opener against Western Illinois.
Receiving Votes: The Crusaders received six votes in the NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA Division I Men’s National Poll for the week of September 16, the first time the team has received votes.
Flying Many Flags: This year’s Valparaiso men’s soccer team represents many different countries. Beyond the borders of the United States, the Crusaders boast players hailing from six other nations for a total of 12 international players born outside the United States. Leading the way is the contingent from Jamaica, as Valpo counts six Jamaicans on its roster for the 2014 campaign.
#oneVALPO: Throughout this season, the Crusader men’s soccer program will be promoting its #oneVALPO campaign, a campaign to celebrate diversity, via social and digital media and at its games. For more information, go to the #oneValpo Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/oneVALPO.
-Valpo Men’s Soccer-