The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team struck first in the season opener on Friday night against quality Big Ten foe Northwestern, but the host Wildcats came from behind to notch a tightly-contested 2-1 overtime win over the Crusaders in Evanston, Ill. Sophomore Adan Garcia (Dallas, Texas / Episcopal School of Dallas) provided Valpo’s goal, the first of college career.
Ty Seager scored the golden goal for the Wildcats (1-0) in the 95th minute. Riley Kelliher charged forward from his right back position to collect a loose ball and crossed to Seager for the winner.
How It Happened
- Goalkeeper Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nuestra Semora del Pilar), making his first collegiate start, was put to the test when Elo Ozumba headed one toward the top corner of the net in the 24th minute. Miras made the save, the first of the match by either team.
- The Crusaders (0-1) snagged the lead in the 30th minute as the ball was won into possession near the 20, then Garcia got into the box and left no doubt about his finish, going far post. He scored from eight yards out with a right-footed blast, with Michael Cushing (Orange, Calif. / Villa Park) notching the assist.
- Northwestern threatened in the 36th minute as the Wildcats barely stayed onside before Matt Moderwell blasted one at Miras, who secured it for his second save.
- The first chance of the second half came in the 54th minute, when Miras recovered after a collision with a Northwestern player, getting back up in time to make a save on a long shot.
- Mac Mazzola leveled the score with a header off a set piece in the 55th minute. An indirect free kick from Mattias Tomasino accounted for the assist. Mazzola made a run from even with far post, then headed it to the near post.
- Valpo’s Jonas Engler (Illingen, Germany / Georg Kerschensteiner Scule) curled one toward the far post in the 59th minute, but the quality try went just wide.
- Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) created an opportunity in the 67th minute, forcing Franciso Tomasino to make his first save to keep it deadlocked.
- The Crusaders then had a strong chance on a free kick from 20 yards out. Garcia sent it in to Mentzingen, who volleyed it just wide.
- The aforementioned golden goal by Seager ended the match with five minutes of overtime elapsed. It was the first shot by either side in overtime.
Inside the Match
- Garcia’s goal was the first of the sophomore’s career, while Cushing’s assist came in his Crusader debut after he redshirted last season. Garcia entered the match with one career point, an assist last year against IUPUI. He placed four shots on goal last season.
- Five of the 11 starters were making their Crusader debuts on Friday – Matthew King, Dylan Waugaman, Chavez Brooks-Robinson, Mentzingen and Cushing. Jonas Engler also played in his first Valpo match. In addition, only one of Valpo’s 11 starters on Friday night started the 2016 season finale (Friday’s goal scorer Adan Garcia).
- The Crusaders have grown accustomed to playing extra soccer to start the season as five of Valpo’s last six season openers have gone to overtime.
- Miras racked up a career-high seven saves in his first collegiate start. The seven saves equals Nico Campbell’s season high from 2016.
- The Crusaders hung right with the Wildcats in the shot department, as Northwestern fired off 14 shots to Valpo’s 11.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“A road game to open a season against a good Northwestern team is a tall order for any team, and I am very proud of how our young guys responded. It was a great game, very exciting and very evenly-matched. Though the loss stings a bit right now, we learned a lot about ourselves and this experience will be very beneficial down the line.”
“We are essentially a brand new team right now. If we can keep our confidence and continue to grow through this early part of the season, this team has tons of potential.”
The Crusaders will play a second straight fixture against Big Ten competition as they visit Michigan on Monday. The match kicks off at 6 p.m. Central Time in Ann Arbor. A link to live stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.