The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team was well represented as the Missouri Valley Conference unveiled its 2018 Preseason All-Conference Team on Thursday.
Returning standouts Rafael Mentzingen (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil [Bryan]) and Adan Garcia (Dallas, Texas / Episcopal School of Dallas) were among the 11 players honored by the conference.
Mentzingen, a senior forward, was a member of the United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Second-Team, the all-MVC First Team and the MVC All-Tournament Team in his first season as a Crusader. He shared the team lead with nine goals, which ranks seventh in program history for goals in a season. His ninth goal came in impressive fashion in the MVC Tournament, earning national attention and leading off SportsCenter on ESPN that evening.
Garcia, a 2017 United Soccer Coaches All-Region Third Team and Second-Team all-MVC performer, enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign, scoring nine goals to share the team lead while also pacing the squad with 22 points, both of which rank seventh in single-season program history. The junior midfielder became just the second Valpo player since the start of the 2002 season to accumulate 20 points in a year. He turned in the ninth hat trick in program history in a 5-2 win over Western Illinois, Valpo’s first hat trick in a road match since 1985.
The Valley also announced its 2018 Preseason Poll on Thursday, and the Crusaders were picked to finish fifth in a vote conducted by league coaches. Defending champion Missouri State is the preseason favorite to win the conference.
After three exhibition matches over the next week, the Crusaders begin the regular season on Friday, Aug. 24 at Brown Field as they host IUPUI. The match will begin at 5 p.m. as the front half of a men’s-women’s soccer doubleheader. The fixture will be broadcast on ESPN+.
2018 PRESEASON POLL Rank Team (1st-place votes) Points
2018 All-Conference Team
Niklas Brodacki, Central Arkansas Jr. F Norrkoping, Sweden/IFK Norrkoping
Younes Dayekh, Bradley So. M Brentwood, Calif. (Heritage)
Adan Garcia, Valparaiso Jr. M Dallas, Texas (Episcopal School of Dallas)
Chris Holmes, Central Arkansas Sr. M Conway, Ark. (Little Rock Catholic)
Conor Ingram, Missouri State Sr. F Oxford, England (Fitzharrys School)
Fabian Lifka, Loyola Sr. M Kelkheim, Germany (Taunusgymnasium Koenigstein)
Rafael Mentzingen, Valparaiso Sr. F Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Bryan)
Marc Olsen, Central Arkansas Jr. GK Copenhagen, Denmark/Jagersborg Boldklub
Grant Stoneman, Loyola Sr. D St. Charles, Ill./Wisconsin
Ben Stroud, Missouri State Jr. D Christchurch, New Zealand
Simon Waever, Evansville Jr. D Holte, Denmark/Skovlyskolen