Crusaders Travel to Cleveland State to open Horizon League Championships
Monday, November 10, 2014
#5 Valparaiso (8-5-2) (3-3-2 HL)
Monday, November 10, 2014, 6:00 pm – Cleveland, Ohio. – at Cleveland State
Thursday, November 15, 2014 – TBA – Rochester, Mich. – Horizon League Semifinal
Saturday, November 17, 2014 – TBA – Rochester, Mich. – Horizon League Championship
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer begins postseason play as they travel to Cleveland State in the first round of the Horizon League Championships.
Previously on the Pitch: Valpo fought to a 2-2 double-overtime draw against Oakland last Friday night at Brown Field to close out the regular season. Nick Suker and Matt Gweh each scored game-tying goals in the 9th and 38th minute.
Following the Crusaders: Monday’s match will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com. The match will also be streamed via the Horizon League Network at HorizonLeague.com.
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: Cleveland State – This will be the 19th meeting between the Crusaders and Vikings and the second time this season. Valpo won in Cleveland on Oct. 18, 1-0 behind Jordan Aidoud’s fourth goal of the season. This marks the second time they have met in the Horizon League Championships, with the Vikings squeaking out a 1-0 victory in the first matchup at Detroit in the semifinals in 2012
Scouting the Opposition: Cleveland State – The Vikings finished the regular season 6-11-0 and 4-4-0 in the Horizon League, finishing fourth in the league. Sergio Maneiso leads the team with four goals and nine points while starting all 17 games. In goal, Nick Ciraldo has started 15 games while allowing 30 goals for a goals against average of 1.98. He has recorded two clean sheets on the season.
Trio Honored: The trio of Zev Taublieb, Omar Lawrence and Ramone Howell were honored with postseason awards from the Horizon League on Monday. Taublieb and Lawrence were both named Second-Team All-League, while Howell was named to the All-Freshman Team. Lawrence was named to the All-Freshman Team last season and Howell is the seventh Crusader to be named to all the All-Freshman Team in the past four years.
Another Trio of Awards: Three Crusaders were named to the College Sports Madness Horizon All-Conference Teams on Monday. Junior Jordan Aidoud and senior Eric Nieto were both named to the First Team as midfielder and defenseman, respectively, while senior captain Zev Taublieb was named to the Second Team. Nieto was selected as a Second Team member last year as well.
Valpo in the Tournament: Since joining the Horizon League in 2008, the Crusaders are 2-5-1 in the league championships, advancing past the first round in 2012 and 2009. In 2011, when Valpo hosted the championships, they battled to a scoreless double-overtime draw with Loyola before losing 5-4 on penalty kicks. Last year the Crusaders fell to Oakland in a first-round match, 2-1. Nick Suker scored the lone goal for Valpo in the 33rd minute.
Stone Wall: Nico Campbell leads the Horizon League with a goals against average of .86, only allowing 15 goals through 16 games and 1,574 minutes played and is second in save percentage with .789.
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 50th in the nation in team goals against average with a .87.
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-