The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team faced the Evansville Purple Aces (5-5-1, 0-2-1 MVC) Saturday night, winning the Missouri Valley Conference showdown 2-1. Despite the rain and wind, the Crusaders (6-5-1, 3-2 MVC) took advantage of playing in front of their home crowd and took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
How It Happened
- In the 16th minute, Valpo hit the back of the net first with a goal by junior Akeem Bradford (Kingston, Jamaica / Camperdown [Cincinnati State]), giving the Brown and Gold an early 1-0 lead.
- Before the first half concluded, junior Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) took a cross from junior Jordan James (Hellshire, Jamaica / Wolmer's Boys School) in the 38th minute and sliced the ball into the lower 90 to put the Crusaders up 2-0.
- Valpo played stellar defense before intermission, allowing Evansville to take only two shots, one of which was on goal.
- The home squad had the advantage in shots for the first 45 minutes, outshooting Evansville 5-2.
- The Purple Aces came out of the locker room hot in the second half, scoring on a header from Ian McGrath, assisted by Zac Blaydes in the 48th minute. McGrath had two quick headers on goal in the first five minutes of the second half.
Inside the Match
- Bradford scored his first career goal for the Crusaders in his third match this season.
- Jordan doubled his assist output after Saturday’s contribution on his teammate’s goal. He now has six points for the season.
- Mentzingen added to his team-leading goal numbers with his strike on Saturday. He now has five goals scored, tied for fourth in the MVC and is in fifth in the conference with 10 points.
- Redshirt sophomore Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nuestra Semora del Pilar) added two saves to his impressive season total, which now sits at 38.
- Eight players for Valpo played every minute of the match, with 10 playing 80 or more.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“I’m proud of the guys tonight because it was a difficult conference game against a good Evansville team, and coming away with all three points is very important as we try to stay relevant in the league race. I thought we were very good in the first half, and at least good enough in the second half. Evansville turned up the pressure, as you’d expect, and though we bent a bit, we didn’t break. It’s a good experience to grind out a win.”
“We get a little bit of a break now from conference play, which we need to get our legs back. We will look to our depth on Thursday to help us against Western Illinois, and hopefully we can develop some momentum and keep winning games as we enter this final stretch of the season.”
Valpo travels to Western Illinois on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 4 p.m. CT to begin a two-match trip away from Brown Field.