The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team held the lead on two separate occasions on Saturday night in Conway, Ark., but Central Arkansas roared from behind to nip the Crusaders 3-2 in Missouri Valley Conference action.
How It Happened
- Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nuestra Semora del Pilar) came through in the early going, extinguishing a quality chance for the Bears. He made a pair of saves in succession in the sixth minute, turning away strong shots by Chris Holmes and Niklas Brodacki.
- Miras remained immense as the first half continued, making saves in the 21st and 22nd minutes.
- The Crusaders (7-6-1, 3-3 MVC) grabbed the lead when Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) delivered a pass from the far touchline to sophomore Adan Garcia (Dallas, Texas / Episcopal School of Dallas) at the top center of the six-yard box. Garcia buried it in the lower left corner, propelling Valpo to a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.
- The Bears got the equalizer in the 38th minute as Chris Holmes scored on a ball headed across the box by Daltyn Knutson. Holmes finished to the bottom right corner.
- Central Arkansas had an opportunity on a set piece in the 45th minute, but the Crusader defense came through, blocking Lucas Gentry’s shot to keep the fixture deadlocked at the halftime break.
- Following halftime, it didn’t take long for the Crusaders to regain the advantage. Ramone Howell (Portmore, Jamaica / Jamaica College) chipped it over the defense to Mentzingen, who scored from 15 yards out to put the Crusaders ahead 2-1 in the 48th minute.
- The Bears (7-7, 5-1) had a quick response of their own as they once again drew even. Brodacki put one inside the near right post off a rebound from three yards out in the 51st minute. The initial shot came from Christian Ilia and was saved by Miras on a diving effort. The Crusader keeper didn’t have enough time to get back to his feet before Brodacki’s follow.
- The Bears gained their first lead of the match in the 84th minute when Lucas Genty recorded his first goal of the year. Brodacki earned the assist, passing to the top of the 18 before Genty finished far right post.
Inside the Match
- Garcia’s goal was his team-leading seventh of the season and boosts his season point total to 17.
- The Mentzingen assist was his first in a Valpo uniform. His goal was his sixth of the year, and his three points moved his season point total to 13, which ranks second on the squad behind only Garcia.
- Howell garnered his second assist of the season and upped his point total to four. He has seven assists in his four-year Crusader career.
- Miras made eight saves, matching his career high previously reached on Sept. 3 at DePaul. The Valpo keeper now has 50 saves this year.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“Congratulations to UCA tonight. They played with great energy and ultimately the half step of effort they had that we lacked proved to be the difference. Maybe it’s because we were the road team, and maybe it’s partly because we’ve been on the road more than any other team in the country, but I think UCA showed they were a little more attached emotionally to the league race. Being a new team to The Valley and with more new players than old on the roster, I think our guys are still learning what it’s going to take to win this league. We have the talent, and now it’s about paying attention to details and competing with the necessary grit that championship teams have.”
“I think we can be quick learners and have something to say about the league race still and the upcoming MVC tournament.”
“The great news is we don’t have any time to sulk. We have a very early flight home tomorrow and will have to turn right around and host Missouri State on Tuesday afternoon. Turning the page and focusing on the next game is the best medicine right now.”
Valpo will compete at home for the final three matches of the regular season, beginning with Tuesday’s showdown with Missouri State. The kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. Central Time. For those who can’t make it to Brown Field, the match will air on 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.