Valparaiso (3-2-2, 0-0-1 Horizon)
Crusaders host pair of home games Saturday and Monday
Saturday, Sept. 26 – 7 p.m. –Brown Field – Cleveland State (3-4-0, 0-1-0 Horizon)
Monday, Sept. 28 – 6 p.m. – Brown Field – #23 Omaha (6-1-0, 0-0-0 Summit League)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: Valparaiso returns home for a pair of matches on Saturday and Monday. First up for the Crusaders is Horizon League foe Cleveland State on Homecoming Saturday, then Valpo will take on #23 Omaha to close out the two-match homestand.
Previously: Valpo ended its overtime streak on Wednesday and continued its recent success against nationally-ranked opponents, picking up a 2-0 road win over #18 Western Michigan. The Crusaders scored just 102 seconds into the game as Isaiah Madrid scored his fourth goal of the season. Jordan Aidoud closed the match out with an insurance goal in the 86th minute.
Following the Crusaders: This weekend’s home matches against Cleveland State and Omaha will be broadcasted online via ESPN3.com, and live stats will be available through ValpoAthletics.com. Over the course of the 2015 season, five home matches, as well as at least five road matches, will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, while WVUR, Valpo’s student radio station, will also be broadcasting select matches.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his ninth season at the helm of the Valpo men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns 60 career wins. The 2011 Horizon Coach of the Year led the Crusaders to their first-ever conference title in the same season and has posted eight of the top-10 defensive seasons in program history over his first eight 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 seen a number of players go on to play professional soccer – most recently, Zev Taublieb from last year’s squad, who currently plays for Wilmington Hammerheads of the United Soccer League.
Series Notes: Saturday’s match will mark the 20th meeting all-time between Valpo and Cleveland State, with the Vikings holding an 11-5-3 advantage in the all-time series. CSU and Valpo met up in the first round of last year’s Horizon League Championship, in a game that ended in a scoreless draw before the Vikings advanced on penalties. Monday’s match against Omaha will be the first meeting between the two squads.
Scouting the Opposition: Cleveland State enters Saturday’s matchup at 3-4-0 on the year after its most recent victory coming at home against Cincinnati, 3-1 on Wednesday. The Vikings have won three of their last four games. The Vikings use a balanced offensive attack, with six players scoring the team’s eight goals to date.
Omaha enters the weekend with a 6-1-0 on the year, with five of its seven matches to date having been played at home. The Mavericks will take on IUPUI on Saturday before trekking to Brown Field. Omaha is led in goals by Mark Moulton with four, as the Mavericks have scored a total of 15 goals on the year.
Crusaders Picked Second in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been picked to finish in second place in the Horizon League in 2015, according to preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. The Crusaders totaled 64 points in the polling and received two first-place votes to earn the second spot in the preseason rankings, trailing only Oakland, which picked up five first-place nods and 75 points. Valpo edged out Wright State (63 points, two first-place votes) for the second spot, while Milwaukee was picked fourth and received the remaining vote for the top spot.
Looking Back at 2014: Last season saw the Crusaders enjoy a number of program firsts. For the first time, Valpo was ranked in national top-25 polls (Top Drawer Soccer, #25; Soccer America, #22) and received votes in the NSCAA top-25 poll for the first time as well. The Crusaders also earned their highest ranking within the NSCAA Great Lakes Region poll (fourth) and reached as high as #9 in the NCAA’s RPI ratings, a program high. Early in the season, Valpo went into East Lansing, Mich. and downed Michigan State for a second straight season – the win over the #7 Spartans marked the highest-ranked opponent the Crusaders have ever defeated. At season’s end, Omar Lawrence was named an NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region honoree, while during the year, Jordan Aidoud, Zev Taublieb and Lawrence all earned spots on various national Teams of the Week.
Honoring Gandarilla: The men’s soccer program will be honoring its three members of the senior class throughout the season, and Saturday night’s match will see senior Jacob Gandarilla recognized before the contest. In his third year as a member of the Crusader program, Gandarilla has become a pillar of the Valpo XI – in the midfield last season and transitioning back to the back line this year. He owns two goals and two assists in the Crusader uniform, and this season, has played 698 minutes over the first seven matches – the most of any Valpo field player.
Madrid Stays Hot: Junior Isaiah Madrid - a transfer to the Crusader program this year from Florida Gulf Coast - has continued to impress in the early season. Madrid has already knocked in two double-overtime golden goals this year, and on Wednesday, Madrid added the second-fastest goal during coach Mike Avery’s tenure at Valpo, tallying just 102 seconds into the game against Western Michigan. The goal against the Broncos stood up as the match-winner, giving Madrid three such goals on the season, a mark bested by just one player nationally through Thursday. Through seven matches, Madrid leads the Crusaders and ranks among the top five in the league in shots (22), tied for second in goals (4) and tied for fifth in points (8).
Wins Against the Nation’s Best: Valpo picked up yet another win versus a ranked opponent on Wednesday, after beating #18 Western Michigan 2-0. The win extended the Crusaders’ streak to three years in a row with a victory over a nationally-ranked opponent, as Valparaiso previously beat top-25 Michigan State sides the past two seasons. Under Mike Avery, the Crusaders have allowed just 26 goals in 20 matches against teams who rank among the top-25 in the nation, including 12 outings surrendering one goal or fewer. When the Crusaders face Omaha on Monday, they will be welcoming a ranked non-league foe to Brown Field for the first time since 2009 and will be searching for multiple wins over top-25 sides for the first time in program history.
Double Overtime Becomes the Norm: Valparaiso’s win over Western Michigan on Wednesday was an outlier this year for the Crusaders, as Valpo found the game over after just 90 minutes. The win over the Broncos snapped a stretch of five consecutive matches which went into extra time, all of which entered the second overtime period. The string of five straight overtime matches, which was a new program record, saw Valpo emerge with a 2-1-2 in those contests. Last season, Valpo set a new program record with 10 matches going into extra time – in all under head coach Mike Avery, 58 of Valpo’s 159 fixtures have gone past the 90-minute mark.
Gweh Gets the Job Done: Junior Matthew Gweh, who saw his first season at Valpo in 2014 partially truncated due to injury, has shown why he’s become a regular up front for the Crusaders. Gweh tallied the assist on Valpo’s eventual match-winner Wednesday against WMU, and now owns two goals and two assists through seven matches this season. Dating back to last year, when he featured just 10 times and made just four starts due to injury, he now owns five goals and two assists in a Valpo uniform.
Campbell Stops the Shots: Junior goalkeeper Nico Campbell has posted back-to-back clean sheets for the second time in his career, as he kept the shutout in the Horizon League opener at Detroit last Saturday and then kept Western Michigan off the scoreboard on Wednesday. After surrendering five goals in the season’s first three matches, Campbell has given up just one goal over the last 416 minutes – a stretch which spans four matches and includes three shutouts. Campbell, who now owns 10 career clean sheets, currently ranks 33rd nationally in GAA (0.76) and 51st in save percentage (.786).
Academic Awards Abound: The Valparaiso University men’s soccer program has been a true epitome of the athletic department’s mission statement, “Champions in Competition, Classroom and Community” over the years, and the academic portion continued this week. The Crusaders, for the 13th consecutive year, were awarded the NSCAA Team Academic Award for maintaining a team GPA above 3.00 last season. The stretch of 13 straight years earning the award from the NSCAA is the third-longest in the nation, as only Carleton College and Penn have earned the honor more years in a row.
Valuable Experience: Junior goalkeeper Nico Campbell and sophomore midfielder Ramone Howell both were part of Jamaica’s u23 setup this summer, trying to help the side qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games. Both Campbell and Howell went to the u23 National Team camp in March and helped Jamaica advance from the June stage of Caribbean Zone qualifying, with Campbell starting every game in goal. The Reggae Boyz u23 side ended up falling just one game short of qualifying in August for the final stage of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying.
Flying Many Flags: As has become customary, head coach Mike Avery and his coaching staff have pulled from all over the world for players to comprise the Crusader men’s soccer squad. Beyond the borders of the United States, this year’s Valpo side boasts players hailing from a total of 13 different birth countries. Leading the way is the contingent from Jamaica, as Valpo counts six Jamaicans on its roster for the 2015 campaign.
#oneVALPO: The Crusader men’s soccer program will continue to promote its #oneVALPO campaign, a campaign started last year 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.