Milwaukee (6-4-1, 3-1-0) at Valparaiso (6-2-2, 3-0-1 Horizon)
Crusaders return home, battle Milwaukee in effort to remain atop league
Saturday, Oct. 8 - 7 p.m. CT – Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University men's soccer team returns to Brown Field on Saturday night to welcome Milwaukee. The Crusaders enter the match in first place in the league standings with 10 points, while the Panthers are even with UIC and Oakland in a three-way tie for second with nine. The Crusaders have won four straight games. If the Crusaders prevail on Saturday, they will set a new program record for consecutive victories.
Previously: Valpo extended its winning streak on Monday night with a 1-0 triumph over Omaha. Nico Campbell notched five saves to preserve the clean sheet. Senior Isaiah Madrid scored the match-winner on a penalty kick in the 25th minute. He leads the team in goals with seven and points with 17.
Looking Ahead: Valpo hits the road for the next four matches after Saturday. Next week, the team will travel to Western Michigan for a 3 p.m. CT start on Tuesday, then visit Green Bay at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Following the Crusaders: Saturday’s match will be broadcast on ESPN3.com, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. The can game also can be heard on WVUR (95.1 FM Valparaiso), Valpo’s student radio station. David Horak will provide play-by-play, with Jake Wulbert adding color commentary.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his 10th season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns 70 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 nine 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, most recently Jordan Aidoud in his native France.
Series Notes: Saturday’s match against the Panthers will be the 13th in the all-time series between the two sides. The Crusaders hold a 5-4-3 edge in the all-time set. The most recent meeting came a year ago at Engelmann Stadium, when the Crusaders collected a 1-0 victory. A goal by Isaiah Madrid in the 82nd minute was the difference in the match.
Scouting the Opposition: The Crusaders are not the only team that comes into Saturday night riding a four-game winning streak. Milwaukee notched its fourth victory in a row on Tuesday, besting Western Illinois 2-0. The Panthers have yielded just one goal in their last four fixtures. Goalkeeper Sam Glass has three shutouts this season, all coming during that four-match stretch. The redshirt freshman made his first start in the season’s fourth game, and hasn’t succumbed the starting job since. Milwaukee, under the direction of fifth-year head coach Kris Kelderman, has a more experienced side this year after featuring 14 freshmen and 21 total underclassmen a year ago. Francesco Saporito and Evan Conway share the team lead in goals with four, while Saporito holds sole ownership of the squad lead in assists (5) and points (13).
Piling up Points: The Crusaders own 10 points through four league matches, tying their highest total through four fixtures since joining the Horizon League. The last time the Crusaders had 10 points after four conference matches was 2011, when Valpo went on to win its only Horizon League title.
Anderson’s Award: Senior Kendan Anderson knows how to make a positive first impression. After missing the first seven fixtures with an injury, he scored in his regular season Valpo debut on Sept. 27 at Eastern Illinois. As an encore, the South Florida transfer found the back of the net in the fourth minute of his Brown Field debut on Oct. 1. Although he has only played in three of the team’s 10 matches, Anderson is tied for second on the team with five points. After his stellar first week, Anderson was rewarded with the Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week distinction on Monday.
Madrid Keeps Scoring: The Isaiah Madrid penalty kick on Monday allowed him to extend his team lead in goals (7) and points (17). Madrid’s match-winner was his second of the season and first since Sept. 4. Madrid ranks second in the Horizon League with 17 points, one away from the league leader, Wright State’s Peguy Ngatcha. Madrid and Ngatcha (8) are the only two players in the league with more than five goals. Madrid is also second to Ngatcha (18) in total points, but the Valpo senior leads the conference in points per game at 1.7.
Campbell Keeps Climbing: By virtue of Monday’s clean sheet, Valpo senior goalkeeper Nico Campbell moved into sole possession of second place in program history with 18. Valpo’s all-time career leader is Kyle Zobeck (2008-2012) with 23. Campbell ranks fourth in the league with a 1.11 goals against average, while the Crusaders’ team GAA of 1.04 leads the league.
Academic Honors: The Crusaders have been awarded with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Team Academic Award, as announced by the organization earlier this week. The Crusaders have received the award 14 straight years, the longest active streak in the nation. The award is given annually and in order to qualify, a program must obtain a composite grade point average of 3.00 or better.
Senior in the Spotlight: This Saturday, the Crusaders will continue their Seniors in the Spotlight program, honoring Nelson Landaverde. The Santa Ana, El Salvador native transferred to Valpo prior to the 2015 season after two years at Neosho County Community College. In his first year with the Crusaders, Landaverde appeared in 18 matches and made nine starts. This season, the second-year Crusader has played in all 10 games and scored two goals.
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.
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.
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.