Valparaiso (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders take to the road for pair of matches to open year
Saturday, Aug. 27 – 7 p.m. – Chicago, Ill. - at Loyola (0-0-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Monday, Aug. 29 – 7 p.m. – Edwardsville, Ill. – at SIU Edwardsville (0-0-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team opens regular season play this weekend with a pair of matches in the Land of Lincoln, as the Crusaders take on Loyola Saturday evening and SIU Edwardsville Monday night.
Previously: Valpo went unbeaten in a pair of exhibition contests last week, beating Lewis at home 7-0 and traveling to #9 Notre Dame to earn a 1-1 draw.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders’ next two matches are at home, as Valpo will host Western Illinois on Sept. 4 and open Horizon League play versus Detroit on Sept. 10. Those will be the Crusaders’ only home matches until the month of October.
Following the Crusaders: Both matches this weekend will have live stats available through ValpoAthletics.com. In addition, the SIUE match is scheduled to have a live video broadcast as well.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Entering his 10th season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns 64 career victories. Under Avery's guidance, the Crusaders have been a stellar defensive side, posting eight of the top-10 defensive seasons in program history over the first eight seasons and earning five league Goalkeeper of the Year accolades. Avery has led the Crusaders to a new standard in his time as head coach, as a program which had enjoyed just one winning season in the 24 years prior to his arrival has finished above the .500 mark five of the last seven years. He has also seen numerous players go on to play professional soccer, including most recently Jordan Aidoud in his native France.
Series Notes: Loyola – A series which dates back to the inaugural year of Crusader men’s soccer, Valpo and Loyola have met 24 times on the pitch. The Ramblers hold a 13-4-7 advantage in the all-time series, but the series has tilted Valpo’s way recently, as the Crusaders are 2-0-4 versus Loyola since the start of the 2011 season. Last season, the two sides battled to a scoreless draw on Brown Field in early September, with Nico Campbell making three saves to secure the clean sheet for the Crusaders.
SIUE – The Crusaders and Cougars will be meeting for the first time on Monday night.
Crusaders Picked Fourth in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League in 2016, according to preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. The Crusaders did pick up three first-place votes, matching the most of any team in the league. Valpo totaled 60 points in the polling, including its three first-place nods, to finish in fourth place, just three points behind UIC (one first-place vote). Oakland and Wright State each received three first-place votes and tied atop the preseason poll with 73 points.
Looking Back at 2015: Last season, the Crusaders posted a 7-6-5 record - one which included a 2-1-1 mark against sides ranked in the top-25 nationally, the first time in program history the team had defeated multiple top-25 programs in the same season. Nico Campbell was tabbed the league's Goalkeeper of the Year, while Omar Lawrence and Isaiah Madrid both earned NSCAA Third Team All-Region honors.
Road Warriors: This year’s Crusader side will have plenty of time for team bonding as they travel on the road early on in the season, as six of Valpo’s first eight contests are away from home. In all this year, Valpo will play 11 road matches versus just seven home matches, including two separate stints of four straight road games.
An Experienced Side: Nine of last season’s 11 starters return for the Crusaders in 2016, while in all 15 players are back from last year’s squad. Valpo surely ranks among the nation’s oldest teams, as the squad features a total of 13 seniors.
Campbell Anchors the Defense: Senior goalkeeper Nico Campbell returns for his final season in goal for the Crusaders, coming off of a Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year campaign in 2015. Campbell recorded eight shutouts and posted a 0.76 GAA as a junior last season, both of which led the league and ranked second in a single season in program history. He enters his final year at Valpo with a 0.82 career GAA, which tops the program’s all-time chart, and owns 15 clean sheets, third-best in program history and just eight shy of the top spot. Campbell spent this past summer playing PDL for the Des Moines Menace, where he was a finalist for PDL Goalkeeper of the Year and was an All-Central Conference selection.
Madrid On the Attack: After leading the Crusaders in scoring in his first season at Valpo, senior forward Isaiah Madrid is back up top for his final year. Madrid paced the Crusaders in 2015 with five goals and 12 points, earning Second Team All-League and Third Team All-Region accolades. Four of his five goals were of the match-winning variety, leading the Horizon League and tying for 24th nationally.
Flying Many Flags: Head coach Mike Avery and his coaching staff pull from all over the world for players to comprise the Crusader men’s soccer squad. The 2016 Valpo side features 19 international-born players from 12 different countries. Leading the way is the contingent from Jamaica, as Valpo counts seven Jamaicans on its roster for the 2016 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.