Valparaiso (7-3-3, 3-1-2 Horizon)
Crusaders ready for second half of four-match road stretch
Tuesday, Oct. 18 – 5 p.m. CT – Fort Wayne, Ind. – at Fort Wayne (7-6-0, 1-2-0 Summit)
Saturday, Oct. 22 - 7 p.m. CT – Chicago, Ill. – at UIC (5-6-3, 3-2-1 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University men's soccer team continues a four-fixture road stretch this week. First, the Crusaders visit the Hefner Soccer Complex to clash with the Fort Wayne Mastodons at 5 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Please note that the start time is an hour earlier than originally scheduled. Then, the Crusaders return to conference action and head to UIC on Saturday.
Previously: On the strength of goals by Omar Lawrence and Kendan Anderson, the Crusaders came from behind to top Western Michigan 2-1 on Tuesday. Then, Valpo incurred its first league loss of the year on Saturday in Green Bay. The Phoenix took an early lead on a free kick goal in the 23rd minute, then added insurance with a header in the 82nd.
Looking Ahead: Home soccer is on the horizon as the Crusaders enjoy six days without a game before returning to the Brown Field pitch on Saturday, Oct. 29 against Northern Kentucky.
Following the Crusaders: Live video and stats courtesy of Fort Wayne will be available on Tuesday night. Live stats will also be available for Saturday’s match. Links to coverage of both games can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his 10th season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns 71 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: The Crusaders and Mastodons will clash for the 19th time on Tuesday, with Valpo holding a 14-4 lead in the all-time series. The two sides are set to hook up for the first time since Oct. 29, 2014, when Fort Wayne prevailed 1-0 at Brown Field with the only goal coming on a penalty kick. This is Valpo’s first trip to Fort Wayne since Oct. 30, 2012, a 3-1 win. Meanwhile, the Crusaders have struggled historically against the Flames, owning a 3-20-2 all-time record. However, the eight meetings between the two teams since Valpo joined the Horizon League have all been decided by one goal or resulted in a draw. The Crusaders fell to the Flames a year ago, 1-0 at Brown Field. Nico Campbell made five saves, but an early goal by Nestor Garcia proved to be the difference. The Crusaders have dropped four straight head-to-head meetings, with their most recent win coming on Oct. 29, 2011.
Scouting the Mastodons: Fort Wayne has an opportunity to tie a program record for wins in the Division-I era with a victory on Tuesday. Goalkeeper Jorge Trujillo ranks third in the Summit League with 39 saves. Trujillo’s name may be a familiar one for soccer fans in Northwest Indiana, as the Fort Wayne sophomore is a native of Dyer and graduated from Lake Central High School. Jacob Murphy and Oscar Uyamadu have six goals apiece, tied for third in the Summit League. Zach Tom has five goals, while Thilo Korperich has scored four times. Uyamadu leads the league with 57 shots and ranks fourth in points with 14. Oddly enough, Fort Wayne has not had a tie in its last 37 matches, with its most recent draw coming on Oct. 7, 2014. Common opponents between the Crusaders and Mastodons are Western Michigan, Green Bay, Detroit and Omaha. The Crusaders beat Western Michigan and Omaha, both teams that topped Fort Wayne. However, the Mastodons defeated Green Bay, which knocked off Valpo on Saturday, and Detroit, which played to a draw against the Crusaders.
Scouting the Flames: UIC is coming off a 1-0 loss to Cleveland State on Saturday. The Flames don’t have a nonleague match this week, so they’ll have time for rest and preparation before welcoming the Crusaders. Max Todd is the team’s top goal scorer with six goals and six assists. He’s tied for second in the Horizon League in points with Valpo’s Isaiah Madrid, as both players own 18 points. Todd is tied for the league lead in shots with 47. UIC has allowed 25 goals, the third most in the Horizon League (1.70 GAA, also eighth). However, they rank fourth in the league with 18 goals scored.
Making Them Count: Kendan Anderson has three goals in his first six matches in a Valpo uniform, and all three of them have been match-winners. Anderson recorded match winners in each of his first two regular season games as a Crusader, helping Valpo defeat Eastern Illinois on Sept. 27 and Oakland on Oct. 1. Anderson’s efforts earned him the Horizon League Player of the Week honor on Oct. 3. He moved into a tie for the league lead with his third game winner on Oct. 11 against Western Michigan. Despite playing in fewer than half of Valpo’s games due to injury, Anderson ranks second on the team with seven points.
In On the Act: Omar Lawrence picked up his first goal and points of the season in the victory over Western Michigan. The senior had one career goal previously – a memorable one that came in a 1-0 victory over No. 7 Michigan State on Sept. 11, 2014. Lawrence became the eighth Valpo player to notch a goal this season.
Goalkeeping Stalwart: Nico Campbell has become a fixture in net for the Crusaders. He moved into second place in program history with 18 career shutouts when he held Omaha off the scoreboard on Oct. 3. The senior ranks sixth in the league in saves with 35, tied for second in shutouts with three and tied for second in GAA at 1.15.
All Good Things Must End: Saturday’s loss to Green Bay was Valpo’s first league loss of the season. It snapped a six-match unbeaten streak and was the team’s first loss since Sept. 21 at Ohio State. The Crusaders had not lost a conference tilt in just under a full calendar year. Their last Horizon League defeat before Saturday was on Oct. 31, 2015, 2-1 at Oakland. The Crusaders are now tied for third in the Horizon League, just two points behind first-place Wright State and three points ahead of seventh-place Green Bay in a tightly-packed table.
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.