Valparaiso (2-5-1, 0-1-0 MVC)
Saturday, Sept. 29 – at Bowling Green (1-5-2, 0-0-0 MAC) – 6 p.m. CT
Monday, Oct. 1 – vs. Oral Roberts (5-3-1, 0-0-0 Summit) – 6 p.m. CT
*records entering Saturday
This Week in Valpo Soccer: The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team will have a busy weekend with two games in three days starting on Saturday night at Bowling Green. After Valpo squares off with the Falcons in Ohio, it will face a quick turnaround for a home date with Oral Roberts on Monday at Brown Field.
Previously: Valpo engaged in a back-and-forth second half on Tuesday night in Porter County that culminated with Jorge Gonzalez scoring the match-winner for SIU Edwardsville in the 86th minute to give the Cougars a 3-2 win over Valpo. The game didn’t reach its conclusion until 11 p.m. after beginning on a lengthy lightning delay. Rafael Mentzingen (penalty kick) and Jonas Engler both scored their first goals of the season in the second half of Tuesday’s fixture. The game against SIU Edwardsville came on the heels of a 1-0 loss to open Missouri Valley Conference play at defending regular season champion Missouri State on Sept. 22.
Following Valpo: Live video of Saturday’s game will be available courtesy of Bowling Green Athletics via YouTube Live. Monday’s home fixture will be broadcast on ESPN+. Dave Huseman (play-by-play) and Ben Ariano (color commentary) will have the call on Monday. Links to live video and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Scouting the Opponent – Bowling Green: Bowling Green went on the road and registered a point at Big Ten foe Ohio State on Tuesday, Sept. 11, earning a 1-1 draw. The Falcons also faced Western Illinois (Sept. 2) and picked up a 3-2 victory against a team that played to a scoreless draw at Valpo. Bowling Green’s most recent game was a 3-2 overtime loss at Purdue Fort Wayne (Sept. 22) against a Mastodons team that Valpo beat 1-0 in overtime on opening night. Bowling Green is led in points by Tate Robertson, who has five points on five assists. Ebenezer Ackon leads the squad with two goals. Anthony Mwembia has played every minute at goalkeeper this season and owns a 1.77 GAA to go along with 20 saves. The Bowling Green head coach is Eric Nichols, who is in his 10th year in charge.
Scouting the Opponent – Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles will play at Western Illinois on Saturday before making their way to Brown Field for a Monday fixture. Entering the game against the Leathernecks, Dante Brigida leads the team with six goals and 13 points, while Junior Chavez has added four goals and a team-high four assists. The lone goalkeeper who has seen action this year is freshman Miles Motakef, who owns a 1.04 GAA and has 57 saves. Oral Roberts has already played three Missouri Valley Conference teams this season. The Golden Eagles beat Drake 1-0 in overtime on Aug. 24 before falling 2-1 at Bradley (Aug. 26) and 3-0 vs. Central Arkansas (Sept. 25). Oral Roberts is guided by sixth-year head coach Ryan Bush, who leads a team that has 11 returning players and 19 newcomers this season.
Series Notes – Bowling Green: This will be the first meeting between these two teams since 2010. Valpo won both prior meetings, picking up a 2-0 victory on Oct. 6, 2009 in Ohio and another 2-0 triumph on Sept. 19, 2010 in Indiana.
Series Notes – Oral Roberts: This will be the 14th time Valpo and Oral Roberts have faced off, but the first since 2011. Oral Roberts came to Valpo and prevailed 3-2 in that most recent meeting, causing Valpo to drop to 3-7-3 in the all-time series. This will be just the second nonconference clash between these two teams since Valpo exited the Mid-Continent Conference, where Valpo and Oral Roberts shared conference affiliation from 1997-2006. Valpo’s last win over Oral Roberts was on Sept. 15, 2006 at Brown Field, a 2-0 triumph.
Senior in the Spotlight: Instead of one senior day, the Valpo men’s soccer program is continuing its unique tradition of honor a select senior (or seniors) at each home game throughout the season. On Monday, Alex Richt will take center stage as the Senior in the Spotlight. He made his collegiate debut last season against SIU Edwardsville, holding the Cougars off the scoreboard through regulation. He earned his first career victory on Oct. 3, 2017 at Northern Illinois. Richt is in his second season with the program after transferring from Graceland.
PK Conversion: Rafael Mentzingen scored his first goal of the season and the 10th of his Valpo career in the 67th minute of the game against SIU Edwardsville on Sept. 25. It came on a penalty kick, Valpo’s first converted PK and just its second PK try this season. This was the first PK attempt of Mentzingen’s Valpo career.
Engler on the Board: Shortly after Mentzingen scored his first goal of the season, Jonas Engler joined the goal-scoring club by becoming the fifth different Valpo player to score a goal this year. He lifted his season total to three points and his career goal total to four as only a sophomore. The Engler goal came in the 81st minute to equalize the fixture against SIU Edwardsville at two.
Flipping the Script: Valpo broke through with multiple goals in the same game for the first time this season on Sept. 25 against SIU Edwardsville. The five total goals in the match went against the trend of the season as the majority of Valpo’s matches this year have been low scoring. That was the most total goals in a Valpo match since last year’s season finale, a 4-2 MVC Tournament loss to Drake.
Shots Upon Shots: Valpo has averaged 14.62 shots per game this season, second in the Missouri Valley Conference. The team is led in that area by Rafael Mentzingen, who paces the MVC with 4.50 shots per game and 36 total shots. Mentzingen’s 4.5 shots per game rank sixth nationally.
Scholar-Athlete Spotlight: Valpo senior Rafael Mentzingen was recognized by the Missouri Valley Conference for his well-roundedness as part of the MVC Scholar-Athlete Spotlight presented by Enterprise Bank and Trust Company on Sept. 19. 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 on three occasions. Two different goalkeepers have earned clean sheets, as Dan Rosenfeld blanked Milwaukee before Nacho Miras led the way to a scoreless draw against Western Illinois for his second shutout of the year. Valpo already has three shutouts this season after having one a year ago. The Brown and Gold have allowed one goal or fewer in six of their eight matches this season.
Nil Nil: The draw on Sept. 15 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.
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 emerged as a key cog for Valpo in the early portion of the season. He was involved in the team’s first three goals, racking up one goal and two assists early in the season. Marchionna has hit 16 shots this season, second on the team and ninth in the league.
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.
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.