Valparaiso (7-5-1, 3-2 MVC)
Saturday, Oct. 21 – 7 p.m. CT – Conway, Ark. – at Central Arkansas (6-7, 4-1)
Tuesday, Oct. 24 – 4 p.m. CT – Valparaiso, Ind. – vs. Missouri State (8-3-1, 4-1)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: After eight consecutive days without a match, the Valparaiso University men’s soccer team returns to the pitch on Saturday evening for the first of two important Missouri Valley Conference showdowns this week. Both matches will present the Crusaders with opportunities to avenge earlier defeats as they play the teams responsible for their two conference losses this week – Central Arkansas and Missouri State.
Previously: The Crusaders experienced something that hasn’t been the norm this season – a lopsided match – on Oct. 12 at Western Illinois. While Valpo has thrived in winning close contests, it certainly didn’t mind the change of pace that a 5-2 win over the Leathernecks provided. Adan Garcia achieved a hat trick to help Valpo extend its winning streak to three.
Following the Crusaders: Saturday’s match will have live video ($$$) and stats available courtesy of Central Arkansas Athletics. Tuesday’s fixture at Brown Field will feature live stats and audio courtesy of WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Series Notes – Central Arkansas: Valpo and Central Arkansas met for the first time ever earlier this season, a match the Crusaders dropped 3-2 on Sept. 23 at Brown Field. Adan Garcia and Jacob Keck scored the first and last goal of the match, respectively, but the Bears had all three middle goals, with Jake Bates, Niklas Brodacki and Colton Jackson doing the scoring.
Scouting the Opposition – Central Arkansas: Central Arkansas enters this weekend tied atop the table with Missouri State as each team has 12 points in Valley play. The Bears are led by Niklas Brodacki, who has nine goals and three assists for a team-high 21 points. Goalkeeper Marc Olsen owns a 1.19 GAA and 42 saves. Central Arkansas was picked to finish fourth in the MVC preseason poll, but is in position to exceed expectations. The Bears play a nonconference game against Memphis on Wednesday night before welcoming the Crusaders on Saturday. They’ve won five of their last six matches, starting with the first meeting with the Crusaders. Central Arkansas’ only loss in conference play came to Missouri State 2-1 in overtime on Sept. 13.
Series Notes – Missouri State: Prior to this season, the Crusaders and Bears haven’t faced off since Sept. 19, 2008, a 1-1 draw at Missouri State. That was the only meeting between the two teams that had occurred during Mike Avery’s tenure at Valpo before a 1-0 Valpo loss at Missouri State on Sept. 30. This isn’t the first time the Crusaders and Bears have shared conferences, as both Valpo and Missouri State (then Southwest Missouri State) participated in the Association of Mid-Continent Universities in 1989. Overall, the Crusaders are winless in seven tries against Missouri State. Josh Dolling scored the lone goal of the match in the 24th minute in the first matchup between the two sides this season. This is the first time Valpo has hosted Missouri State since Aug. 29, 2003.
Scouting the Opposition – Missouri State: The Bears are coming off their first Valley loss of the season on Saturday, Oct. 14, a 2-1 home setback to Drake. That marked the first time Missouri State’s stellar defense had yielded more than one goal in a match this season. Picked to finish third in the conference, Missouri State is tied atop the table with Central Arkansas after winning each of its first four conference contests. The Bears had won seven straight matches and five straight in conference play prior to the loss to Drake. They are led by Conor Ingram, who has seven of the team’s 12 goals this year. Goalkeeper Liam Priestley has been a standout, racking up 46 saves while compiling a sparkling GAA of 0.48.
Hats Off to Adan: Sophomore Adan Garcia scored three goals in last week’s 5-2 win over Western Illinois to achieve the ninth hat trick in program history. Garcia becomes the eighth player with a hat trick as Brian Thiel has two. The program had just two hat tricks in 26 years from 1990-2015, and has now had hat tricks in consecutive years as Kendan Anderson (Oct. 31 vs. IUPUI) had one a year ago. This was Valpo’s first hat trick in a true road match since 1985. The program’s last six hat tricks have all been scored by players in their first or second year at Valpo. Garcia doubled his season goal total to six to usurp Rafael Mentzingen for the team lead and regained the team lead with 15 points.
Freshman Feat: Jonas Engler scored his third goal of the season on Saturday, becoming the first Crusader with three goals as a freshman since 2014, when Stian Sandbekkhaug and Jordan James scored three times apiece. Engler also has two assists to put his season point total at eight, the most by a Valpo freshman since Jordan Aidoud had 11 in 2012.
Three-Point Performers: Valpo had a trio of individuals register three points or more in last week’s win over Western Illinois. In addition to Garcia’s six points, Jordan James and Jonas Engler each added one goal and one assist. That marked the first time Valpo has had three players accumulate three points or more in a match since Aug. 27, 2012, a 6-1 victory over Saint Joseph’s College.
Five-Goal Outburst: The five goals against the Leathernecks marked Valpo’s season high. The Crusaders hadn’t scored more than three goals in any one match this season. In addition, it was the first time this season that the Crusaders played a match decided by more than one goal after they started the season with 12 straight decided by one goal or tied for the first time in program history.
Road Warriors: Valpo now owns six road wins this season, the second consecutive year and the third time in program history the Crusaders have racked up six true road victories. This season is tied with 2016 and 1997 for the most true road wins in a single season in program history. Valpo can set the program record for road victories with a win on Saturday at Central Arkansas, the final road match of the regular season before Tuesday’s game against Missouri State starts a stretch of three straight at home to close the regular year.
Regional Recognition: The Crusaders are in the NSCAA West Regional rankings for the second consecutive week. They held steady this week, once again being ranked eighth. They’re joined by a trio of Missouri Valley Conference peers – Missouri State (No. 3), Bradley (No. 6) and Loyola (No. 9).
Starting a Streak: The Crusaders are in the midst of a three-match winning streak for the first time this season. Valpo last won three or more in a row from Sept. 24- Oct. 3 last season, a stretch of four consecutive triumphs.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his 11th season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns a program-record 81 career victories. Under Avery's guidance, the Crusaders have been a stellar defensive side, as eight of the top nine defensive seasons in program history have come during his tenure. Avery has led the Crusaders to a new standard in his time as head coach, as a program that had enjoyed just one winning season in the 24 years prior to his arrival has finished above the .500 mark in six of the last eight years. He has also seen numerous players go on to play professional soccer, including active pros Zev Taublieb, Kyle Zobeck, Stefan Antonijevic, Jordan Aidoud and Nico Campbell. Avery shattered the program record with his 77th career victory on Sept. 16 at Drake. Avery reached 77 victories in his 195th career match, while previous record holder Mis’ Mrak needed 288 matches to accumulate 76 wins.
Looking Ahead: Following Tuesday’s match against Missouri State, the Crusaders will have just two matches remaining in the regular season – a nonconference fixture with Eastern Illinois on Oct. 30 and a Valley date with Bradley on Nov. 4.
Comeback Crusaders: The Crusaders put together a noteworthy comeback on Sept. 16 at Drake, erasing a 2-0 hole to beat the Bulldogs 3-2. That was only the second time during Mike Avery’s 11 years in charge of the program that Valpo has come from two goals down to win a match. The first was Oct. 10, 2014, when Valpo trailed Wright State 2-0, then rallied for five unanswered goals in the second half to win 5-2. Prior to 2014, Valpo hadn’t won after trailing by two goals since Sept. 27, 2006, a 5-4 win over Evansville.
Welcome to The Valley: The Valpo men’s soccer team has already turned heads in its first season in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Crusaders garnered immediate respect by winning their first-ever MVC match 2-1 at No. 18 Loyola, the league’s defending regular season champion. Valpo’s win snapped Loyola’s 28-match home unbeaten streak which went back three seasons. Valpo followed with the aforementioned 3-2 overtime victory at Drake.
Topping Ranked Foes: Valpo's win over No. 18 Loyola continued the program's recent history of success against nationally-ranked opponents. The Crusaders have five wins and one draw against nationally-ranked sides since the start of the 2013 season.
Other Ranked Successes
Oct. 14, 2015 at No. 23 New Mexico: T 1-1 (2OT)
Sept. 28, 2015 vs. No. 23 Omaha: W 1-0 (OT)
Sept, 23, 2015 at No. 18 Western Michigan: W 2-0
Sept. 11, 2014 at No. 7 Michigan State: W 1-0
Sept. 8, 2013 at No. 24 Michigan State: W 2-1
Fresh Faces: This season marked the debut of a new-look Valpo roster, as the Crusaders have experienced extreme turnover after carrying a senior-laden team in 2016. Only 10 players return who saw game action a year ago, and four of those appeared in eight games or fewer. The Crusaders had 14 players depart, 12 of whom appeared in 12 games or more. Crusader fans will have to keep their roster handy as they watch a team that features 19 newcomers this year. Just five of Valpo’s 31 goals in 2016 were scored by players who are back in 2017. Of the 11 players who started the season opener at Northwestern, only one started the 2016 season finale (Adan Garcia). Five of the 11 starters and six players in total made their Valpo debuts in the match.
Crusaders Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll: Valpo was picked to finish sixth of seven in a preseason poll of the conference’s head coaches. The Crusaders garnered 15 points in the poll, edging out Bradley (14) for sixth and narrowly behind fifth-place Drake (18). Defending regular season champion Loyola collected five of the seven first-place votes.
Howell Honored: Senior midfielder Ramone Howell represented Valpo on the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason All-Conference Team. Howell scored three goals and dished out two assists in 14 matches for the Crusaders a year ago. He totaled 33 shots, 14 of which were placed on goal. He is Valpo’s only returning player who scored more than one goal last season.
Looking Back at 2016: Last season, the Crusaders racked up 10 victories, matching the program record for wins in a single season. Following the campaign, they said goodbye to a deep and talented graduating class. Goalkeeper Nico Campbell finished with 22 career shutouts, one shy of a program record. Isaiah Madrid finished the season with 10 goals and 25 points, becoming just the sixth Valpo player to score double-figure goals in a single season and the first to reach 25 points in the last 25 years. Kendan Anderson turned the fastest hat trick in NCAA history on Oct. 31 against IUPUI, scoring three times in 1:21. The season ended as Milwaukee advanced on PKs following a first-round draw with Valpo in the Horizon League Tournament. Valpo was on the road 12 times, tying with two other Division I teams for the most road games, going 6-4-2 away from Brown Field. The team scored 31 goals, allowed 18 and notched seven shutouts.
Seasoned Staff: The Valparaiso men’s soccer coaching staff has the unique distinction of having four coaches (three assistants) with collegiate head coaching experience. Chris Pfau is in his first season as Valpo’s top assistant after spending the last six seasons as the head women’s coach at the University of Houston. Pfau has also guided women’s teams at Akron (2008-12) and Evansville (2005-06). Fourth-year assistant David Stroud was the head coach at St. Joseph’s College from 2011-13, while Brendan Roth spent the 2016 season in charge of Calumet College’s program. Valpo is the only team in The Valley with four individuals with head coaching experience on its staff.
Flying Many Flags: Head coach Mike Avery and his coaching staff have continued to pull from all over the world for players to comprise the Crusader men’s soccer squad. This year’s roster features players from 10 countries and 13 total players born outside the United States. In addition, the following states are represented – Kansas, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Maryland, California, Illinois.
#oneVALPO: The Crusader men’s soccer program will continue to promote its #oneVALPO campaign, which celebrates diversity, via social and digital media and at its games. For more information, go to the #oneVALPO Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/oneVALPO.
Crusaders Working with TOCO: Valpo will once again raise funds for They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) this year. Throughout the 2017 season, the Crusaders are working to raise money and awareness for TOCO’s work through sport with at risk children in the Caribbean and United States. As part of this effort, men’s soccer will be working with Valpo volleyball to fund a future international service trip, bringing the student-athletes of these two teams to the Caribbean to get on the ground with TOCO and work directly with children the charity supports.