Valparaiso (2-3-1, 0-00 MVC)
Tuesday, Sept. 22 – at Missouri State (4-0-2, 0-0-0 MVC) – 7 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 25 – vs. SIU Edwardsville (4-1-1, 0-0-0 MAC) – 7:30 p.m. CT
*records entering Friday
This Week in Valpo Soccer: The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team is ready to embrace the challenge of starting the Missouri Valley Conference portion of the season by visiting the defending regular season champions on Saturday night. MVC preseason favorite Missouri State will welcome Valpo to crank up conference play before Valpo steps back outside of conference action for a Tuesday tilt against SIU Edwardsville at Brown Field.
Previously: Valpo is coming off a scoreless draw with Western Illinois on Sept. 15 at Brown Field. Goalkeeper Nacho Miras picked up his second clean sheet of the season by going all 110 minutes while racking up five saves.
Following Valpo: There will be no video stream available for Saturday’s match, but live stats will be available. Tuesday’s home fixture will be broadcast on ESPN3, which is free with a cable subscription. Dave Huseman (play-by-play) and Ben Ariano (color commentary) will have the call on Tuesday. Links to live coverage are available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Scouting the Opponent – Missouri State: If Valpo can find a way to beat the Bears on Saturday night, it’ll be the first team this season to do so. Missouri State kept its unbeaten record intact with its most recent game, a 4-1 win over UMKC last week. The only teams who have avoided a loss against Missouri State are Cal State Fullerton (T 1-1 on Aug. 27) and Mercer (T 1-1 on Sept. 7). The Bears are ranked fifth in the latest United Soccer Coaches West Region poll. Josh Dolling is the reigning MVC Offensive Player of the Week after scoring all three goals in a double overtime victory over Santa Clara on Sept. 10 for the program’s first hat trick since 2005. His second goal of that match was No. 3 in SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. He leads The Valley in points (15), goals (7) and game-winning goals (3). Missouri State is led by head coach Jon Leamy, who has been at the helm since 1992. He picked up his 250th career victory against Valpo last season. Missouri State won its seventh MVC regular season title after going 5-2-1 in league play.
Scouting the Opponent – SIU Edwardsville: The Cougars suffered their first blemish of the season on Saturday, Sept. 15 against Missouri Valley Conference foe Loyola, a 2-0 home setback. That concluded a four-game winning streak and a five-game unbeaten streak that began the season. Among the highlights of the SIU Edwardsville resume was a 3-0 win over Big Ten foe Wisconsin on Sept. 7. SIU Edwardsville has one more game before Tuesday, a Friday night visit to Saint Louis. Entering this weekend, Jorge Gonzalez leads the way with four goals while Lachlan McLean has added two goals and three assists.
Series Notes – Missouri State: Valpo will attempt to secure its first victory against Missouri State on Saturday. The two teams faced off twice in Valpo’s first season in The Valley with the Bears winning 1-0 in Springfield and 2-0 in Valpo. Valpo is 0-7-1 all-time against the Bears with the most positive result coming in 2008, a 1-1 tie.
Series Notes – SIU Edwardsville: This will mark the third meeting between these two teams with Valpo holding an 0-1-1 record against the Cougars. The two teams hadn’t met prior to 2016, but this will be the third straight season they’ve faced off. This will be the first time SIU Edwardsville has visited Brown Field. The two teams played to a scoreless stalemate on Aug. 29, 2016 before SIU Edwardsville used an overtime goal for a 1-0 win a year ago. Lachlan McLean scored the golden goal in the 94th minute on a Keegan McHugh assist. Alex Richt started in goal for Valpo in a game that featured just two shots on goal, both by the Cougars.
Scholar-Athlete Spotlight: Valpo senior Rafael Mentzingen was recognized by the Missouri Valley Conference for his well-roundedness this week as part of the MVC Scholar-Athlete Spotlight presented by Enterprise Bank and Trust Company. An economics major with a theology minor, Mentzingen boasts an impressive 3.87 grade point average. He has served the community through his work with the Detroit Fieldhouse, the #oneValpo diversity campaign, St. Baldrick’s, They Often Cry Outreach and the Valpo Parks Department. He is active on campus as a member of the Valpo Economics Club and the Valpo International Student Organization.
Stout Defense: Valpo has continued its tradition of stout defense this season, shutting out the opposition in back-to-back fixtures. Two different goalkeepers have earned clean sheets in the last two matches, as Dan Rosenfeld blanked Milwaukee before Nacho Miras led the way to a scoreless draw against Western Illinois. Valpo already has three shutouts this season after having one a year ago. The Brown and Gold has allowed one goal or fewer in five of its six matches this season.
Nil Nil: The draw on Saturday against Western Illinois was Valpo’s first stalemate since a 1-1 tie at Michigan on Aug. 28, 2017. Valpo hadn’t played to a scoreless draw since Nov. 7, 2016, a Horizon League Tournament match against Milwaukee that saw the Panthers advance on penalty kicks.
Valley Play Begins: For the second consecutive season, Valpo starts Missouri Valley Conference play against the defending league champion. Last year, Valpo entered the win column in its MVC opener with a 2-1 win at No. 18 Loyola. This season, it’s another tough test as preseason favorite Missouri State hosts Valpo on Saturday. Valpo hasn’t dropped a conference opener since 2010.
Brown with the Winner: Defender Alex Brown was part of a Valpo back line that limited Milwaukee to two shots on goal and helped shut out the Panthers on Sept. 7 in a 1-0 road win for Valpo. In addition, he scored the game-winning goal in the 90th minute, using a header goal for the only tally of the match by either side. Brown played 86 of the 90 minutes in the triumph and scored the second goal of his career, both match winners.
A Victorious Debut: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Dan Rosenfeld made his collegiate debut on Sept. 7 after three injury-plagued seasons. Rosenfeld made two saves in his first Valpo game, helping shut out a quality Milwaukee side in a 1-0 Valpo victory.
A Flair for the Dramatic: Both of Valpo’s wins this season have come on late match-winners to snap scoreless ties. On Aug. 24 against IUPUI, it was a 104th minute golden goal by Michael Marchionna that sent Valpo to victory, while Alex Brown’s goal against Milwaukee on Sept. 7 came in the 90th minute. Valpo beat a Panthers team that held a strong 29-14-10 home record in Kris Kelderman’s six seasons as head coach prior to the defeat.
Making Moves: After having just one assist and no goals through his first two seasons, redshirt junior Michael Marchionna has emerged as a key cog for Valpo in the early portion of the season. He’s been involved in all three of the team’s goals, racking up one goal and two assists for a team-high four points. Marchionna has hit 16 shots this season, second on the team to Rafael Mentzingen, who ranks second in the MVC with 27.
All-Tournament Team: A pair of Valpo student-athletes were recognized as part of the All-Tournament Team for their play at Wisconsin over Labor Day weekend. Rafael Mentzingen and Nacho Miras both added all-tournament accolades to their resumes. Miras permitted just one goal in each game against quality Big Ten competition, recording six saves for the tournament. Mentzingen racked up nine shots over the two matches, two on frame.
Opening in Style: A 1-0 overtime victory over IUPUI allowed Valpo to start its season with a win for the first time since 2011. Valpo was also opening up at home for the first time since the 2011 campaign. Although it had gone winless in the last six season openers before that match, Valpo had three draws - including one at Big Ten foe Michigan State - and two overtime defeats in addition to a one-goal loss at No. 14 Kentucky in 2015. Valpo has seen three straight season openers go to overtime and six of their last seven lid-lifters have required play beyond the regulation 90 minutes.
Keeping It Clean: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Nacho Miras picked up the second shutout of his career on Aug. 24 against IUPUI. The first also came against the Jaguars in a 1-0 win in Indianapolis on Sept. 26, 2017. Keeping the opponent off the scoreboard in the season opener is nothing new for Valpo, which had shutouts in six consecutive season openers from 2009-2014.
Dynamic Duo: Valpo 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 Valpo player 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.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his 12th season at the helm of the Valpo men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns a program-record 84 career victories. Under Avery's guidance, the team has 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 program to a new standard in his time as head coach, as a team 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: Valpo was 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.
A Look Back at 2017: The 2018 team is looking to build upon the school’s first season in the Missouri Valley Conference, which saw Valpo 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 its 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 team 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 Valpo has racked up 30 goals or more in back-to-back seasons.
Road Warriors: Valpo had six road wins last season, the second consecutive year and the third time in program history the team has 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.
Flying Many Flags: Head coach Mike Avery and his staff have continued to pull from all over the world for players to comprise the men’s soccer squad. This year’s roster features players from 12 countries – Spain, Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia, France, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Germany, England, Italy and the United States.
#oneVALPO: The Valpo 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.
Working with TOCO: Valpo will once again raise funds for They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) this year. Throughout the 2018 season, the team is 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.