Valparaiso (0-1-1, 0-0-0 Horizon)
Crusaders welcome longtime rival to Brown Field Sunday
Sunday, Sept. 4 – 3:30 p.m. – Brown Field - Western Illinois (0-1-1, 0-0-0 Summit)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team returns home to host longtime rival Western Illinois on Brown Field Sunday afternoon. The Crusaders will continue their tradition of honoring Seniors in the Spotlight before each home match this season, beginning with Deven Mason and Isaiah Madrid on Sunday, 15 minutes before match time.
Previously: Valpo posted an 0-1-1 record in its first weekend of regular season action last weekend. The Crusaders opened by battling back from two goals down to force extra time at Loyola before falling 3-2. Valpo concluded the weekend with a double overtime scoreless draw at SIU Edwardsville.
Looking Ahead: The Crusaders stay home to open Horizon League play Saturday afternoon versus Detroit at 2 p.m. Valpo will then hit the road for its next four matches.
Following the Crusaders: Sunday's match will be the first this season broadcast on ESPN3.com and will also be available via WatchESPN and the ESPN App. It will also be carried on Valpo's student radio station, WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live video and audio, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In 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: A series that dates back to 1988, the Crusaders have faced off with Western Illinois more than any other team in program history. Sunday's matchup is the 30th meeting all-time between the two sides, with WIU holding an 18-9-2 advantage. The last three years have seen the Crusaders come away with three victories, however, including a 3-2 victory in extra time last year in Macomb. Isaiah Madrid found the back of the net in the 102nd minute for the golden goal in that victory.
Scouting the Opposition: Western Illinois enters the weekend with an 0-1-1 record on this year, drawing 2-2 at Belmont and losing 3-0 at Lipscomb. The Leathernecks play at SMU Friday evening before arriving in Valpo. Last season, WIU finished 6-11-1 and went .500 in Summit League play, posting a 3-3-0 mark.
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.
Seniors in the Spotlight: Sunday's game marks the first game this season the Crusaders will honor their Seniors in the Spotlight. On Sunday, the program will recognize a pair of Albuquerque natives in Deven Mason and Isaiah Madrid. The high school teammates both arrived at Valpo prior to the 2015 season and made an immediate impact. Mason made 15 starts last season as a junior among 17 appearances, playing the entire match on seven occasions. Madrid was a Second Team All-League and Third Team All-Region selection, leading the Crusaders with five goals and 12 points and pacing the Horizon League with four match-winning goals.
Crusaders Working With TOCO: Each home game, the Senior in the Spotlight shirts that are tossed out to fans will feature the logo of They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO). Throughout the 2016 season, the Crusaders will be working to raise money and awareness for TOCO’s work through sport with at risk children in the Caribbean and United States. As part of this effort, men’s soccer will be working with Valpo women’s volleyball to fund a future international service trip, bringing the student-athletes of these two teams to the Caribbean to get on the ground with TOCO and work directly with children the charity supports. October 1st will be the annual TOCO benefit game, and following the match, men’s soccer will be auctioning off special blue charity jerseys, blue representing the island of St Lucia – the home base of TOCO. All proceeds will go towards TOCO and the service trip.
Tallying Points: Madrid picked right up where he left off last season in the opening weekend of play, recording three points in the Crusaders' game at Loyola. The senior opened the scoring for Valpo with a penalty kick goal - the first of his Crusader career - to cut the deficit to 2-1, and then assisted on the tying goal in the 87th minute. He now owns six goals and 15 points during his time at Valpo.
Keeping Clean Sheets: The Crusaders have always boasted a strong defense during Avery's time at the helm of the program, and with senior goalkeeper Nico Campbell back for his final season, look to do so again in 2016. Campbell and the Crusaders recorded their first shutout of the year in Monday's scoreless draw at SIUE, maintaining the clean sheet despite playing down a man for the final 50 minutes. For Campbell, he now has 16 career shutouts - one shy of Ryan Schwarz for second in program history and just seven shy of the top spot.
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.
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.