Valpo In The Valley: Men's Soccer
Monday, July 10, 2017
Valpo In The Valley: Men's Soccer

Continuing the #ValpoInTheValley series, which will take a look at each of the Missouri Valley Conference’s 17 sports, is men’s soccer. Learn about the landscape of The Valley in men’s soccer, how Valpo has fared against opponents from The Valley in the past, and hear from head coach Mike Avery as he talks about what the program is looking forward to entering its first season of MVC competition and who will lead the way in 2017 for his team.

MVC Men’s Soccer

The addition of Valparaiso University to the Missouri Valley Conference gives the MVC six member institutions which sponsor men’s soccer, while The Valley also has one affiliate member in the sport. Bradley, Central Arkansas (affiliate member), Drake, Evansville, Loyola, Missouri State and Valpo will compete in men’s soccer during the 2017 season.

Did You Know?

Chris Pfau, who joined the Crusader coaching staff this spring as an assistant coach, previously spent three seasons as head coach of the Evansville women’s soccer team. Pfau led the Purple Aces to a 30-22-4 record in his three years at the helm, including a berth in the MVC championship match in 2006.

A Look Back at 2016

MVC Regular Season 


MVC (Pts.)



6-1-1 (19)



4-1-3 (15)



4-2-2 (14)


Central Arkansas

4-3-1 (13)


Missouri State

3-4-1 (10)



2-5-1 (7)



0-7-1 (1)


MVC Championship

Nov. 13, 2016 – Springfield, Mo. – SIUE 1, Missouri State 0

NCAA Tournament

First round – Loyola 2, UIC 0
SIUE 1, Michigan State 1 (SIUE advances on PKs, 9-8)

Second round – Notre Dame 1, Loyola 0
SIUE 0, Butler 0 (SIUE advances on PKs, 5-4)

Third round – Wake Forest 2, SIUE 1


The Crusaders matched a program record for victories during the 2016 campaign, posting a 10-5-4 overall record. Valpo finished tied for fifth place in the Horizon League standings with a 4-3-2 mark in league play, just two points out of second position.

Isaiah Madrid led the Crusader offense with 10 goals and 25 assists, both of which ranked fifth in a single season in program history. Omar Lawrence joined Madrid as a First Team All-League and an NSCAA All-Region selection as well. In goal, Nico Campbell closed out a stellar career with a program-record 0.86 career goals against average and 22 clean sheets, just one shy of the record.

Valpo graduated 13 seniors from last year’s squad, but welcomes a deep crop of newcomers to the program entering the 2017 campaign. Leading the way for the returnees is senior Ramone Howell, who has anchored the Crusader midfield throughout his first three years at Valpo. Howell was limited to just 14 matches last season due to injury, but still found time to score three goals and hand out a pair of assists.

The Valley on the National Stage

The Missouri Valley Conference boasts a long history of success in men’s soccer, as The Valley has produced three National Players of the Year and has sent six teams to the NCAA College Cup.

The 2016 season marked the sixth time in the last decade that multiple MVC programs have earned spots in the NCAA Tournament, as Loyola received an at-large bid in addition to SIUE’s automatic berth. Both programs finished the season in the top-25 of the NSCAA poll as well.

Loyola boasted an NSCAA All-American last season in Grant Stoneman, a Second Team honoree, while the MVC saw two standouts – SIUE’s Austin Ledbetter and Bradley’s Logan Ketterer – selected within the first four rounds of the MLS Superdraft.

Valpo Versus The Valley

Valpo acquitted itself well in a road swing to start the season against the two MVC squads which would end the season among the nation’s top-25 teams. The Crusaders dropped a tough 3-2 decision in extra time at Loyola in the season opener, and then – despite being down a man for much of the game – battled to a scoreless draw at eventual Sweet 16 participant SIUE.

The loss to the Ramblers was the Crusaders’ first since 2010, as Valpo owned a 2-0-4 record against Loyola in their last six meetings prior to 2016. The Crusaders were 1-0-2 versus the Ramblers over the 2011 and 2012 seasons – the last two years as foes within the Horizon League – and then posted an identical mark in non-league competition against Loyola from 2013-2015.

Outside of Loyola, the Crusaders’ most recent matchup with opponents from The Valley came during the 2008 season, when they played three MVC opponents within a week’s stretch – a stretch which included a 1-0 win against #25 Bradley and a draw at Missouri State.

Looking Ahead to 2017

The Valley will play an unbalanced conference schedule in 2017, as each team will play eight conference games – playing two opponents home-and-home and the other four one time apiece.

All seven teams will compete at the MVC Men’s Soccer Championship, which will be hosted by Bradley starting Nov. 7. The sixth and seventh seeds will play an opening-round game for the right to play the third seed, while the fourth and fifth seeds will match up as well. The top two seeds get a bye to the conference tournament semifinals, with the championship match slated for Nov. 12.