If there are two things the Valparaiso University men’s soccer team is used to this season, they’re playing in close games and playing on the road. The Crusaders did both again on Tuesday night, edging Mid-American Conference foe Northern Illinois for a 3-2 victory in DeKalb, Ill.
How It Happened
- Freshman Jonas Engler (Illingen, Germany / Georg Kerschensteiner Scule) provided the Crusaders (5-5-1) with an early lead by virtue of a goal in the 20th minute. He booted a shot through traffic from the top of the box and sneaked it inside the far post out of the reach of the goalkeeper, who dove to his left. Jake Pesek (St. Louis, Mo. / Chaminade) accounted for the assist.
- The Huskies (3-7) got the equalizer in the 28th minute as Kevin Rodriguez scored from 30 yards out to the top corner of the net.
- Only 1:02 after the match-tying goal by NIU, the Crusaders had a response, which came courtesy of sophomore Adan Garcia (Dallas, Texas / Episcopal School of Dallas). Garcia delivered a header goal from inside the six off a cross from the right by Pesek, who was credited with the assist.
- Junior Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) gave the Crusaders some breathing room by running down the left side, cutting in and shooting it in off the post at exactly the 75-minute mark, making it 3-1 in favor of the Crusaders.
- Northern Illinois pulled back within a goal in the 80th minute as Noah Brodie scored on a header as Konrad Diedzic provided the assist on a free kick from midfield. That whittled Valpo’s lead to 3-2, which is where the score remained for the game’s duration.
Inside the Match
- Engler became the fourth Crusader who has scored multiple goals this season with his second of the year. He now has five points and two of his three shots on goal have found the back of the net.
- Garcia scored for the second time in the last three matches and has three total goals this season. His tally moved him into a short-lived tie with Mentzingen for the team lead at three scores apiece. Garcia now has a team-high nine points after totaling just two a year ago. Garcia is the only player on the roster with both multiple goals and multiple assists.
- Mentzingen’s goal allowed him to climb right back into the team lead in goals as he now has four this season. The goal proved to be the match-winner, the first of his Crusader career.
- Pesek’s assists were the first two of his career and boost his season total to four points. He has six points over his two seasons as a Crusader after scoring one goal as a redshirt freshman in 2016.
- Pesek became the 30th player in program history with a multiple-assist game and the first since Zev Taublieb on Oct. 7, 2014 at IUPUI.
- Junior goalkeeper Alex Richt (Manhattan, Kan. / Manhattan [Graceland]) made his second career start and first since Sept. 9 at SIU Edwardsville. He picked up his first career victory to improve to 1-1.
- In the field, junior Akeem Bradford (Kingston, Jamaica / Camperdown [Cincinnati State]) made his second career start after debuting on Saturday night at Missouri State. Bradford started and played 84 minutes.
- None of Valpo’s matches this season have been decided by more than one goal. This marks the first time in program history Valpo has not played a fixture decided by more than one goal in any of its first 11 matches of a season.
- The three goals matched Valpo’s season high, previously reached on Sept. 16 at Drake.
- The Crusaders now own five road wins this season as all five triumphs have come away from Brown Field as part of a road-heavy schedule.
- The final shots on goal count favored the Crusaders 7-2, while Valpo outshot NIU overall 19-7.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“I’m happy for the boys tonight. We needed to spread some minutes around so we can keep legs fresh for the Saturday league game, and so we can make sure the depth stays sharp and ready when those players are called into action. On both of those fronts, we accomplished a lot. We also, of course, wanted to bounce back and get a positive result. It was a job done there too.”
“We’ve played nine of 11 on the road, and are 5-3-1 during that very difficult stretch. Now we just have to find our home form. We are hopeful Saturday night that we can get rolling since Brown Field over the years has been a very firm advantage. With four of our last six at home, it’s important that we figure it out.”
Valpo returns to Brown Field on Saturday to host Evansville in a Missouri Valley Conference match that kicks off at 7 p.m. CT. The game can be heard on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.