The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team didn’t waste any time getting on the board Wednesday afternoon at #18 Western Michigan, using an early strike to propel itself to a 2-0 win over the nationally-ranked Broncos in Kalamazoo, Mich.
"It was a good win, on the road, to a nationally ranked opponent, and WMU is a very good team that has earned the ranking they have - this is the kind of result we needed and one that helps us build,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery after the win.
The victory marked the third straight season that the Crusaders have defeated a nationally-ranked opponent on the road, as Valpo downed top-25 Michigan State sides each of the last two years. Valpo also upheld its reputation as a side that maintains its stingy defense against some of the nation’s best squads, as the Crusaders have now surrendered just 26 goals in 20 matches against nationally-ranked teams under Avery and have given up one goal or fewer in 12 of those fixtures.
The Crusaders jumped out early to a 1-0 lead in the second minute of the match, as Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, NM./Eldorado [Florida Gulf Coast]) beat the WMU keeper inside the right-hand post from just inside the 18-yard box off a feed from Matthew Gweh (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview, [High Point]) just 102 seconds into the contest. The goal, Madrid’s fourth of the season, was the second-fastest goal to start a match in the Avery era and Valpo’s fastest since tallying just 47 seconds into a win over IPFW in 2008.
Valpo added an insurance goal in the 85th minute, as Stian Sandbekkhaug (Ottawa, Ont./Frisco Liberty) won the end line and played the ball back across for Jordan Aidoud (Lyon, France./CEFAM) in the box, where the senior notched his second goal of the season. The Crusaders became the first side this year to score multiple goals on Western Michigan, as the Broncos had surrendered just one goal in their first six matches.
Valparaiso was able to make the most of their shots as it was outshot 12-5 by Western Michigan. Nico Campbell (Kingston, Jamaica/St. George’s College) stood strong in goal to shut out the Broncos and earn his third clean sheet of the season, as he recorded four saves on Wednesday, while WMU also had a chance go off the crossbar midway through the second half. Western Michigan (5-1-1) goalkeeper Chase Rau made one save in the losing effort.
“We recognize that if we don't follow this result up with a strong showing Saturday night, that would be an opportunity lost,” said Avery. “We have a big league game with Cleveland State coming to town, so the second we get off the bus tonight, that becomes our focus.”
Valparaiso (3-2-2) will be back in action this Saturday night at Brown Field when they take on Cleveland State at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, with live stats available at Valpoathletics.com.