The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team showcased its squad depth Tuesday afternoon in a decisive 3-0 win in non-league action at Eastern Illinois.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders got on the board in the 16th minute, scoring following a turnover in their attacking third. Senior Kendan Anderson (Portmore, Jamaica/St. George's College [South Florida/ASA College]), who was making his Crusader debut, connected for the goal, while freshman Chris Villalobos (Richardson, Texas/J.J. Pearce) picked up the assist.
- Valpo doubled its lead with a key insurance goal just before halftime. Late in the 44th minute, EIU goalkeeper R.J. Hill made a save but was unable to keep the ball. Senior Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado [FGCU]) got possession and fed fellow senior Suleiman Thomas (Chicago, Ill./Lake Forest Academy), who finished to make it a 2-0 game.
- The Crusaders kept the pressure on throughout the second half and extended the lead to three as the period approached the halfway mark. Anderson found Madrid in the box, and the latter found the back of the net to close out the scoring.
Inside the Match
- Anderson was making his Crusader debut after dealing with injury the first half of the season. The senior tallied three points in Tuesday’s win after finishing his junior year at USF with four points in 20 matches.
- Villalobos tallied his first career point with the assist on Anderson’s match-winner, while Thomas scored for the first time this year and third time in his career.
- Madrid picked up at least three points in a game for the third time this year and now owns 15 points (six goals, three assists) in eight games this year.
- Madrid also came off the field for the first time this year as the Crusaders put their depth to use in the win over EIU. 21 outfield players saw action for Valpo, with 19 of them playing at least 27 minutes.
- Senior Nico Campbell (Kingston, Jamaica/St. George’s College) and redshirt freshman Nacho Miras (Jerez de la Frontera, Spain/Nuestra Semora del Pilar) split time in goal in the victory. Campbell played the first half, making a pair of saves, while Miras manned the box in the second half and stopped one shot.
Thoughts From Head Coach Mike Avery
“It was a very professional road performance and a good 'team' win today because we needed to call on a lot of guys, and when we did, they responded. We've just finished a stretch of four games in eleven days, all hard games, and all including bus travel, so to get something positive out of today was going to take the whole squad. We shared minutes across 21 players, stayed out of card and injury trouble, and were able to find a win all while resting a few key regulars. We couldn't really have asked for much more.”
“The other piece of good news was that we saw the return of Kendan Anderson, albeit in a limited role. Kendan showed his quality immediately, nearly scoring on his first touches within a minute from the start of a game, and went on to have a goal and an assist. Isaiah Madrid has been the best player on the field in every game we've played this season, including today, and to get these guys together has some very exciting prospects moving forward.”
“We will enjoy this for about three hours, the length of the bus ride home, and then we will get right to work on our preparation for league-leading Oakland. Oakland has been the class of our league the past few seasons, and we are going to need to be at our best Saturday night. We are looking forward to a great game.”
The Crusaders return home to Brown Field for the first time in three weeks this Saturday evening, as Valpo hosts Oakland in Horizon League play. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m., and the match can be heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live audio, as well as live stats, will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Saturday night’s match will serve as the program's TOCO benefit match, with the program collecting donations at the gate and throughout the game and wearing special blue charity kits which will be auctioned off after the match. The Seniors in the Spotlight Saturday night will be Kevin Fallet and Matthew Gweh.