Valparaiso (10-4-3, 4-2-2 Horizon)
Tournament seeding hanging in balance entering season’s final day
Friday, Nov. 4 - 7 p.m. CT – Valparaiso, Ind. – vs. Wright State (10-5-2, 6-1-1)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The table is tight entering the final game of the regular season as the Valparaiso men’s soccer team can still finish anywhere from second to seventh in the Horizon League, with the top six teams qualifying for next week’s conference tournament. A quality test awaits the Crusaders, as first-place Wright State comes to Brown Field for Friday’s fixture.
Previously: The Crusaders have outscored the opposition 10-0 over the last two games, blanking Northern Kentucky on Saturday and IUPUI on Monday with Valpo winning both matches by a score of 5-0.
Looking Ahead: The Horizon League Tournament will commence on Monday, Nov. 7 with the No. 3 seed hosting the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed hosting the No. 5 seed. The semifinals and finals will be held at Wright State on Nov. 10 and Nov. 12.
Following the Crusaders: Friday’s match will be broadcast on WVUR (95.1 FM Valparaiso), Valpo’s student radio station. Jake Wulbert will provide play-by-play, with Kevin Huang adding color commentary. Links to live audio and stats 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 74 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: This marks the 15th all-time showdown between the two sides, with Wright State owning a 10-4 lead in the series. The last time the two teams met was a year ago in Dayton, when Wright State prevailed 3-1 on Oct. 10. Suleiman Thomas scored his first career goal for the Crusaders.
Scouting the Raiders: Wright State has already locked up at least a share of the Horizon League regular season title and the right to host the conference tournament next week. The Raiders are coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over Milwaukee last week at Alumni Field. A.J. Paterson scored the golden goal in the 98th minute. This match will feature the two top goal scorers in the Horizon League, as Wright State’s Peguy Ngatcha and Valpo’s Isaiah Madrid are tied for the league lead in goals with 10 apiece. Ngatcha ranks second in the league in points behind Madrid with 23. Both are viable candidates for the Horizon League’s Offensive Player of the Year distinction. Eric Lynch is second on the team with five goals. Joel Sundell (eight games), Will Lukowski (five games) and Ryan Pignatiello (five games) have all seen time at goalkeeper for the Raiders this season.
Tight Table: The Crusaders enter the final regular season match of the year with 14 league points, tied for third with Cleveland State. Valpo could move up to second and notch a first-round bye with a win over Wright State and a UIC loss to Oakland or a win over Wright State, a UIC tie with Oakland and a Cleveland State win over Milwaukee. The Crusaders will secure a spot in the Horizon League tournament with a win or draw with Wright State, a Northern Kentucky win or draw with Green Bay, a UIC win or draw with Oakland or any outcome other than a draw between Milwaukee and Cleveland State.
Anderson Makes NCAA History: Not only did Kendan Anderson turn the fastest hat trick in NCAA history in Monday’s 5-0 win over IUPUI, but the Valpo senior did so by bettering a record that had stood for 31 years by 54 seconds. Anderson scored three goals in 1:21, shattering the mark of 2:15 established by John Slone in 1985. In addition, only 15 seconds elapsed between his first and second goal, tying for the sixth-fastest pair of goals by a single player in NCAA history. Anderson, who has scored eight goals this season despite missing seven of the team’s 17 matches with injury, became the eighth player in Valpo history to notch a hat trick and the first since Paul Leitelt on Aug. 27, 2006.
Double Figure Wins: The Crusaders also made history as a team with Monday’s win, matching the program record for wins in a season single set by the 2009 team. The Crusaders can go where no Valpo team has gone before if they capture victory No. 11 on Friday against Wright State.
Madrid Earns Honor, Ascends Record Book: Valpo senior Isaiah Madrid earned the Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week award based on his two-goal, one-assist performance in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Northern Kentucky. He became the third Valpo player to capture a league weekly award this season, joining Nico Campbell (Sept. 6) and Kendan Anderson (Oct. 3). After the award was announced on Monday afternoon, Madrid sustained his success in the match against the Jaguars. He scored his 10th goal of the year, becoming the sixth player in Valpo history to reach a double-figure goal total in a single season. He is tied with Tony Dal Santo for fifth in program history. The last time Valpo had a player rack up 10 goals or more in a single year was Scott Daly in 2001. In addition, Madrid’s season point total is up to 25, making him the first Valpo player with 25 points in a single season in the last 25 years. The most recent Crusader to hit that mark was Brien Thiel in 1991.
Campbell Continues Climb: Valpo senior goalkeeper Nico Campbell now has 21 career shutouts, two shy of the program record. He joins Kyle Zobeck (2008-2012) as the only goalkeepers in program history with 20 or more career shutouts. Campbell’s clean sheet against IUPUI was his sixth of the season. The Crusaders are tied with Wright State for the league lead with seven shutouts as a team.
Dominant Victories: The Crusaders are coming off back-to-back lopsided victories entering Friday. They did not allow IUPUI to register a single shot in Saturday’s win. Before Saturday’s 5-0 win over Northern Kentucky, the Crusaders most recent five-goal victory was Aug. 27, 2012, a 6-1 win over Saint Joseph’s. The 23 total shots and 10 on goal against Northern Kentucky represented season highs for the Crusaders.
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.