The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team saw its program-record streak of eight straight matches earning a result come to an end on Saturday night, as the Crusaders fell at Wright State in Horizon League play, 3-1.
“Congratulations to Wright State, because I thought they were very good on the night and they earned the result,” head coach Mike Avery said following the match. “It was a funny game for us because we started pretty well, but WSU capitalized on one mistake coming out of the back, and the goal gave them a lift. To their credit, they seized the momentum and by the time we started playing, the result was essentially decided.”
The Crusaders entered Saturday night’s match riding a four-match winning streak, an eight-match unbeaten streak, and a program-record streak of five consecutive shutouts, but as always, all good things must come to an end. The Raiders struck in the 30th minute off an Eric Lynch goal, and followed that up eleven minutes later with an AJ Paterson header to put Wright State up 2-0 at the half.
“There were some silver linings for us as we saw some good performances out of our bench players, and the team as a group kept fighting until the end,” said Avery. “The reality is we have a starting group that has played a lot of minutes, we had a few regulars out tonight or limited due to minor injury and or illness, we've been on the road the majority of the season which also takes its toll, and all of that caught up tonight when we faced a team up for a challenge.”
Wright State added its third goal less than five minutes after the break when Marquis Payton found the back of the net. The Crusaders were able to get on the board with just seconds left in the match, as Suleiman Thomas (Chicago, Ill./Lake Forest Academy) scored his first career goal off a feed from Demar Rose (Kingston, Jamaica/Wolmer’s Boys School).
The Crusaders were able to put more shots on goal compared to the Raiders on the evening, six and four, respectively, but weren’t able to take advantage, as Tyler Blackmer made five saves for Wright State (7-3-1, 2-2-1 Horizon).
Despite the tough road loss, the Crusaders did set another program record for consecutive minutes without letting up a goal, bringing the total to 582 minutes before surrendering Lynch’s tally.
“The good news is tonight only counts as one loss and we still have plenty of chances in front of us to battle in the league,” said Avery.
Valpo will continue playing away from home, as the Crusaders travel out west to New Mexico – which was ranked #21 in the nation in last Monday’s Soccer America top-25 poll - on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. CT. Live stats will be available online at ValpoAthletics.com.