Valparaiso (10-5-3, 4-3-2 Horizon)
First-Round Showdown Pits No. 6 Valpo against No. 3 Milwaukee
Monday, Nov. 7 - 7 p.m. CT – Milwaukee, Wis. – vs. Milwaukee (8-7-2, 5-3-1)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The most significant and exciting time of the Valparaiso University men’s soccer season has arrived as the Crusaders visit Milwaukee in a Horizon League Tournament first-round fixture. The Crusaders can extend their season and set the program record for victories in a single year with a triumphant effort on Monday.
Previously: The Crusaders dropped the regular season finale on Friday night at Brown Field, as Horizon League regular season champion Wright State utilized two second-half goals to come away with the win. Valpo needed anything other than a draw from the Milwaukee vs. Cleveland State game to reach the Horizon League Tournament. Both the Panthers and Crusaders secured tournament berths at the same moment as Milwaukee’s Evan Dujardin scored in the 90th minute to beat Cleveland State 1-0 and end the Vikings’ season.
Looking Ahead: The Horizon League semifinals and finals will be held at Wright State later this week. If the Crusaders top the Panthers on Monday, they’ll battle the host Raiders in the semifinals on Thursday at 6 p.m. Monday’s other match is a showdown between No. 5 Green Bay and No. 4 Oakland in Rochester, Mich.
Following the Crusaders: Monday’s match can be seen on ESPN3, Watch ESPN and the ESPN app. Links to live video and stats will be available 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: Monday’s match will be the 14th all-time between the two sides. The Crusaders hold a 5-4-4 advantage in the all-time set. This year’s regular season meeting resulted in a 1-1 draw on Oct. 8 at Brown Field. The Crusaders grabbed the lead on a goal by Matthew Gweh in the 40th minute, but the Panthers responded with an Evan Conway equalizer in the 51st minute. The most recent tournament meeting between the two teams came in 2012, when the Crusaders prevailed 1-0 in Detroit.
Scouting the Panthers: The Panthers are led by Evan Conway and Francesco Saporito, who have 15 points apiece. Conway is the team leader in goals with six, while Saporito has accumulated seven assists to pace the Panthers. Three of Saporito’s goals this season have been game-winners. Goalkeeper Sam Glass has notched 33 saves in 10 games and owns a 1.15 GAA while compiling a 5-3-2 record.
Double Figure Wins: The Crusaders enjoyed the winningest regular season in program history, collecting 10 wins this season. They have already matched the program record for total victories (regular season and tournament) set in 2009 and have a chance to become the winningest Valpo side in program history with a triumph on Monday.
Back in Tournament: The Crusaders are back in the Horizon League Tournament after a one-year hiatus a season ago. They seek their first league tournament victory since Nov. 6, 2012, a 1-0 victory over the Panthers.
Spreading It Out: Demar Rose notched his first career goal on Oct. 31 against IUPUI, becoming the 10th Crusader to score this season. Valpo and Wright State are the only Horizon League teams with 10 or more players with at least one goal. In addition, the Crusaders have 14 players with at least one point.
Anderson Makes NCAA History: Not only did Kendan Anderson turn the fastest hat trick in NCAA history in the 5-0 win over IUPUI on Oct. 31, 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.
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 last week was his sixth of the season. Campbell had an active day on Friday against Wright State, posting a season-high seven saves. The last time he had more than six was a 1-1 tie with Belmont on Oct. 24, 2015, when he made eight saves in 110 minutes.
Madrid Making Mark: Valpo senior Isaiah Madrid earned the Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week award on Oct. 31 based on his two-goal, one-assist performance in a 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. Madrid is one of 36 players in the nation with 10 goals or more.
Dominant Victories: The Crusaders had back-to-back lopsided victories on Oct. 29 and Oct. 31 at Brown Field. 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.