The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team began its home Missouri Valley Conference slate on Saturday, coming up short against Central Arkansas 3-2. The Crusaders (3-4-1, 2-1 MVC) battled through tough playing conditions with the heat rising above 90 degrees to score goals both early and late, but the visiting Bears came away victorious.
How It Happened
- The scoring started early for Valpo as sophomore Adan Garcia (Dallas, Texas / Episcopal School of Dallas) ripped a free kick from 25 yards, hitting off the crossbar and into the net to give the home squad a 1-0 advantage in the 11th minute.
- The Bears (2-6-0, 1-1 MVC) rallied and tied the match at 1-1 in the 30th minute after a goal by Jake Bates. He had a header off a corner kick from Pepe San Roman.
- Keeping the momentum for the visitors was Niklas Brodacki, chipping one to the back off the net in the 51st minute to push Central Arkansas up 2-1. Assisting on the goal were Lucas Genty and Nate Lancaster.
- Colton Jackson rounded out the Bears’ scoring, increasing their lead to 3-1 in the 81st minute. His goal came on a two verse one pass from Niklas Brodacki, and the shot rolled passed the keeper to hit the back of the net.
- Valpo doubled its score with a put-back goal by senior Jacob Keck (Topeka, Kan. / Hayden Catholic) in the 87th minute. The goal came off a blocked shot by sophomore Michael Marchionna (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville Central).
- Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nuestra Semora del Pilar) added to his season save total by increasing his total to 33 after a two-save effort today.
Inside the Match
- Garcia improved his goal total with his performance. The scorer now has two goals on the season, landing in a tie for second on the squad. He is tied for the team lead with six points.
- Keck adds a goal to his list of accomplishments this season. He now has three career goals for the Crusaders.
- Marchionna collected his first career point for Valpo from his assist on the second goal.
- Miras moved into second in the MVC with 4.71 saves per game and sits in third with 33 total saves.
- Leading the Brown and Gold in shots this season is junior Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan). He is second in the MVC with 26 shots and averages 3.25 a game. Mentzingen tallied five shots and one on goal on Saturday.
- Making his debut for Valpo was junior Alex Brown (MayPen, Jamaica / Glenmuir [Cincinnati State]), who came in during the 82nd minute.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“First, congratulations to UCA. Today’s game was a real challenge for both groups given the heat, and I thought they displayed a maturity that we lacked. It was a well-earned win by their side.”
“We are in an interesting spot right now. We had a number of players not available with some nagging injuries and with the heat today and the surface of our field, we didn’t want to risk turning a small injury into something larger.”
“We will be back to normal in a week, maybe two, but in the meantime, we’ve been riding our reserves pretty hard. It’s good for them and will help them grow up and will help us in the long run as a team. The group needs only to stick together through a tough patch. Every team has one and the key for our season is to get the right combination of players playing together at the right time. The heat will break one day, the injured players will get back to full fitness one day and for now we just need to keep grinding.”
The Crusaders will stay in state and face IUPUI in Indianapolis, Ind. on Tuesday, Sept. 26. This is the first of a three-game road stretch for Valpo. The match will start at 6 p.m. CT and links to live stats and video will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.