The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team faced a 1-0 halftime deficit on Monday night at Brown Field, but the Crusaders exploded for three second half goals to best Eastern Illinois 3-1 in nonconference action. Valpo had the bulk of the match’s quality chances, outdoing the Panthers 8-2 in shots on goal.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (8-7-1) controlled the majority of the possession and opportunities early in the game. The best chance came in the 28th minute when Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) and Jordan James (Hellshire, Jamaica / Wolmer’s Boys School) placed shots on goal in relative succession, but Eastern Illinois goalkeeper Mike Novotny made both saves. Novotny sprawled to his right to stop Mentzingen’s shot, which was rifled off on a pass from James.
- James also placed a header on goal in the 36th minute, but Novotny was there for the stop once again.
- The first shot on goal of the match for Eastern Illinois (3-8-6) found the back of the net in the 42nd minute. Christian Sosnowski collected a pass from Tyler Enright from 13 yards out on the left side of the field, and hooked one to the lower right corner of the net. Despite owning most of the possession and chances, Valpo entered the locker room facing a 1-0 deficit.
- The Crusaders got the equalizer in the 55th minute as Mentzingen chipped one in from 4 yards out in a crowded box. Sophomore Adan Garcia (Dallas, Texas / Episcopal School of Dallas) earned the assist on a free kick from the near sideline.
- After a foul in the box against the Panthers, the Crusaders were awarded a penalty kick in the 69th minute. Garcia converted to the lower left corner, giving Valpo its first lead of the match at 2-1.
- Mentzingen put the match away when he completed his brace in the 89th minute. He broke free from a group of Eastern Illinois defenders, then converted a clear kick as the ball trickled into the net from 18 yards out.
Inside the Match
- Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nuestra Semora del Pilar) picked up the victory, his seventh of the season.
- Mentzingen turned in the first brace of his Valpo career. Mentzingen and Garcia are now even for the team lead in goals with eight apiece.
- Garcia’s assist was his fourth of the season, as his three-point night boosted his team-leading point total to 20. Mentzingen is second on the squad with 17 points.
- Garcia has cracked Valpo’s all-time top 10 for points in a single year. He now owns 20 points on the season, tied for 10th in program history. Garcia becomes just the second Crusader since the start of the 2002 season to accumulate 20 points in a season, joining Isaiah Madrid, who had 25 in 2016.
- Garcia’s penalty kick resulted in the first game-winning goal of his collegiate career. In addition, that was Valpo’s first PK attempt all season.
- Mentzingen and Garcia are both one goal away from cracking the program’s single-season Top 10, while Garcia needs one more assist to enter Valpo’s all-time Top 10 in that category.
- The victory allows the Crusaders to move into a tie for sixth in program history for wins in a single season. In addition, Valpo has now scored 28 goals in 2017, moving into a tie for eighth in program history for total goals in a single year.
Valpo competes in an important Missouri Valley Conference match on Saturday at Brown Field as Bradley comes to town at 1 p.m. CT. The Crusaders can assure they will avoid the No. 6 vs. No. 7 first-round MVC Tournament match with either a win or draw against the Braves in the regular season finale. It’s Senior Day at Brown Field as a trio of Crusaders will receive recognition as they close out their home careers. Links to live coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.