The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team battled toe-to-toe with Top Drawer Soccer #14 Kentucky Friday evening in the season opener for both sides, but a goal in the 90th minute gave the Wildcats a 2-1 victory.
“Congratulations to Kentucky on the win tonight,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “It was an exciting game – one that was very evenly matches and hard-fought – and while we are disappointed not to have held on for a result, it was a game that had far more positives for us than negatives.”
It was Valpo which cracked the scoreboard first on Friday, as the Crusaders’ duo up top combined on the season’s first goal. Sophomore Stian Sandbekkhaug (Ottawa, Ontario/Frisco Liberty) sent a through ball in to junior Matthew Gweh (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview [High Point]) in the 40th minute. Gweh took the pass and beat the Kentucky goalkeeper to the far post to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
But Kentucky would rally for two goals in the second half to pull out the win. Noah Hutchins scored in the 56th minute to level the game at 1-1, and then with 31 seconds to play, Napo Matsoso found the back of the net to give the Wildcats the 2-1 win.
Valpo out-shot the Wildcats on Friday evening, 10-9, while both sides put four shots on goal. Nico Campbell (Kingston, Jamaica./St. George’s College) made a pair of saves for the Crusaders.
“Kentucky has a talented team, are well-coached and have a beautiful stadium – it’s everything you think a top-20 team should be,” said Avery. “We stood tall, though, and despite being a little short-handed tonight, we showed that we are a team capable of playing with anyone. We have plenty to learn and lots of room to grow, but our starting point is high, and hard games early in the season are the quickest and surest way to learn. We have a couple of days to get ready for the next opportunity, and we are excited for Monday night’s game against Cincinnati.”
Valparaiso (0-1-0) continues early-season action Monday night as the Crusaders travel to take on Cincinnati. Kickoff Monday is slated for 6 p.m. CT.