Valparaiso (0-0-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Friday, Aug. 24 – vs. IUPUI (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Horizon) – 5 p.m. CT
Sunday, Aug. 26 – at Marquette (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Big East) – 4:05 p.m. CT
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team will kick off a new season on Friday night by hosting IUPUI. After the Crusaders and Jaguars clash to get the season going, Valpo will visit Big East foe Marquette on Sunday.
Previously: The Crusaders will look to build upon their first season in the Missouri Valley Conference, which saw them knock off a Top 25 opponent, place two individuals on the United Soccer Coaches all-region team, have three players receive all-conference recognition and help their head coach shatter the school record for career wins. Valpo finished the season with eight wins, tied for sixth in program history for wins in a single season. The Crusaders scored 30 goals, which also ranked tied for sixth in the program’s single-season record book. Valpo has scored 30+ goals in each of the last two seasons, just the second time in program history and the first since 1986 and 1987 that the Crusaders have racked up 30 goals or more in back-to-back seasons.
Following the Crusaders: The season opener on Friday can be seen on ESPN+ with Ben Ariano (play-by-play) and Aaron Leavitt (color commentary) describing the action. Live video of the Sunday match will be available on Golden Eagles All-Access via Marquette Athletics. Links to live video and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Futbol at Brown Field: Friday’s match will begin a men’s/women’s doubleheader of soccer action dubbed “Futbol at Brown Field,” part of the Welcome Week festivities on campus. Food trucks will be serving tacos to the first 200 students and scoops of ice cream to the first 100 students, free of charge. Students are required to present their Valpo OneCard to receive their tacos and ice cream. Valpo is hosting a cleat swap on Friday where attendees are encouraged to bring gently-used cleats and exchange them for a new, gently-used pair. The cleat swap will take place from 4-6 p.m. There will also be an inflatable bounce house located between the Fitness Center and the Athletics-Recreation Center. In addition, the Valpo women’s basketball team will be holding mini-clinics inside the ARC for children ages 12 and under. The Valpo men’s ultimate Frisbee team will be competing at halftime.
Valpo’s Dynamic Goal-Scoring Duo: The Crusaders placed two on the Preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference team – midfielder Rafael Mentzingen and forward Adan Garcia. The two players shared the team lead in goals last season with nine apiece, a number that ranks tied for seventh in program history for goals in a single season. Mentzingen and Garcia became the first pair of Valpo teammates to each score nine goals or more in a single season in program history. Both received significant postseason accolades as Mentzingen was named second-team all-region, first-team all-conference and MVC all-tournament team, while Garcia garnered third-team all-region and second-team all-conference.
A Glance at the Goalkeepers: Nacho Miras is a returning starter at goalkeeper, leading the way for a deep position that also includes Dan Rosenfeld and Alex Richt. Miras etched his name into the single-season program record book a year ago, posting a goals against average of 1.64 that ranked 10th in program history. He had seven saves in his first career start on Aug. 25 at Northwestern, the most saves by a Valpo keeper in a debut since 2001. His success continued with a career-high eight saves on Sept. 3 at DePaul, helping him earn MVP honors at the Chicago Classic, MVC Defensive Player of the Week recognition and a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.
Freshman Feat: Sophomore Jonas Engler made a good first impression as a rookie last year, becoming the first Crusader with three goals as a freshman since 2014, when Stian Sandbekkhaug and Jordan James scored three apiece. Engler also had two assists to put his season point total at eight, the most by a Valpo freshman since Jordan Aidoud had 11 in 2012. Engler picked up All-MVC Honorable Mention a year ago.
Series Notes – IUPUI: These two in-state opponents have been facing off on the soccer pitch since 1987, with Valpo holding a 16-7-1 edge in the all-time set. Valpo has won five straight over IUPUI going back to a 1-0 loss in 2012. The Crusaders have won eight of the last nine against the Jaguars, a team they are playing for the 11th straight year. Last year’s match saw the Crusaders pull out a 1-0 win in Indianapolis behind an Alex Brown goal in the 51st minute in just his second career appearance. Nacho Miras turned in his first career shutout in that match. A slice of NCAA history occurred the last time IUPUI visited Brown Field, as Kendan Anderson turned the fastest hat trick in NCAA history by scoring three goals in 1:21 in Valpo’s 5-0 win.
Scouting the Opposition – IUPUI: The Jaguars return eight starters from a year ago and have a crop of new players headlined by Virginia Tech transfer Rodrigo Zampieri and high school All-American Corey Goede. IUPUI’s key returning players include Nick Anderson, Sam Gavin and Tommy Patacca, while sophomore goalkeeper Michael Buck is back after notching a 1.68 GAA and 37 saves in 2017. IUPUI third-year head coach Brian Barnett is familiar with the Missouri Valley Conference, as he spent seven seasons on Bradley’s staff before making the move to Indianapolis. IUPUI has several players who local soccer fans may recognize as freshman goalkeeper Noah Osearo is a Dyer native and was the Duneland Athletic Conference MVP last season while playing for Lake Central. In addition, senior midfielder Jared O’Dell is a Chesterton product.
Series Notes – Marquette: The Crusaders will face off with Marquette for the first time since 2001, resuming an all-time series that began in 1992. The Golden Eagles have won all five meetings, most recently winning 4-0 on Sept. 7, 2001 in Milwaukee. The 2000 matchup in Valpo went to overtime with the Crusaders falling 2-1.
Scouting the Opposition – Marquette: Marquette picked up a victory over the MVC in exhibition play after beating Valpo’s conference foe Loyola 1-0 on Aug. 11. The Golden Eagles are led by junior midfielder Luka Prpa, who was selected to the All-Big East Preseason Team for the second straight season. Prpa, an All-Big East Second Team selection last season, enters his junior year with 11 goals and 11 assists in 32 career starts. Marquette, which has eight returning starters, will open with consecutive MVC opponents as Central Arkansas comes to town on Thursday. Sunday’s match will be the regular-season opener for the Golden Eagles, who have been instructed by veteran head coach Louis Bennett since 2006.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his 12th season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns a program-record 82 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 six times since his arrival. 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. He reached 77 victories in his 195th career match, while previous record holder Mis’ Mrak needed 288 matches to accumulate 76 wins.
Preseason Poll: The Crusaders were picked fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll. Defending champion Missouri State is the favorite to win the league, followed by Loyola, Central Arkansas and Bradley.
Road Warriors: Valpo had six road wins last season, the second consecutive year and the third time in program history the Crusaders have racked up six true road victories. The 2017 season is tied with 2016 and 1997 for the most true road wins in a single season in program history.
Seniors in the Spotlight: Each game throughout the season, Valpo will recognize select seniors. This week, the seniors in the spotlight are John Doss and Tyler Curylo.
Flying Many Flags: Head coach Mike Avery and his 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 11 countries – Spain, Mexico, Jamaica, France, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Germany, England, Italy and the United States.
#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 2018 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. This year’s TOCO benefit game will be Oct. 6 against Loyola at Brown Field.