The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team played to a scoreless draw with Missouri Valley Conference foe Loyola on a misty and foggy Sunday night at Brown Field. Valpo put together its best performance of the past month to earn a gritty point in the Valley standings against a quality conference foe.
How It Happened
- Loyola (4-4-2, 1-0-2) had its best first-half opportunity in the 17th minute when a header shot by Oskar Gustafsson that was set up by a corner kick banged off the crossbar.
- Neither team registered a shot on goal until the 37th minute, when Loyola’s Billy Hency struck a header shot that necessitated a diving save by Valpo goalkeeper Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nueatra Semora del Pilar).
- That was the lone shot on goal in a first half that saw Valpo outshoot Loyola by the narrow margin of 5-4. Valpo’s Lucca Lacerda (Passos, Brazil / Mercy College) was the only player on either team to get off two shots in the opening half. Eight of the starting 11 for Valpo played all 45 first-half minutes.
- The first shot on goal of the second half came in the 72nd minute when a header by Tyler Curylo (Palatine, Ill. / Palatine (Heartland CC) was turned away by Loyola goalkeeper Josh Lagudah. A diving effort by Miras in the 77th minute kept the game scoreless as he deflected a Tucker Stephenson shot.
- The two teams combined for one shot in the first overtime – a header that went wide right by Michael Marchionna (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville Central). Miras made a stop in the final 10 seconds of the second overtime, closing out a relatively quiet 20 minutes of extra time.
Inside the Game
- Miras picked up three saves to build his season total to 28. He achieved his third shutout of the season and the fourth by the team.
- Valpo (2-7-2, 0-1-1) held the upper hand in shots, outdoing the guests 14-9. Lacerda led the way with three shots for the hosts.
- Seven Valpo players went the full 110 minutes on Sunday.
- This marked Valpo’s second scoreless draw of the season after the team also played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer on Sept. 15 against Western Illinois. Before this season, Valpo hadn’t played to a scoreless draw at Brown Field since Sept. 7, 2015 against Loyola. The last time Valpo had two 0-0 deadlocks at home in the same season was 2012.
- Seven of the last eight meetings between Valpo and Loyola have gone to overtime. This was Valpo’s fourth scoreless draw with the Ramblers since 2012.
- Sunday marked the annual They Often Cry Outreach benefit match. The Valpo men’s soccer program continued its tradition of accepting donations and raising funds for TOCO, an organization that works through sport with at risk children in the Caribbean and the United States.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“Conference games are always a battle, and this one was no different. What I told my team after the game was that while this was probably not our best soccer game in terms of the technical parts of the game, this might have been our bravest performance since I've been at Valpo. We had a tough week last week and the natural inclination for a team might be to play carefully or timidly when you're going through a difficult stretch. I thought we were proactive and brought a great spirit to the game, and I am proud of the way we approached this match. Of course we wanted all three points, but at the end of the day, it was a fair result and a good battle against a good team. The job now is to build on it.”
“Our season is very defined right now – we need enough points to qualify for the postseason and then we need to be playing our best when that tournament comes. This was the best we have played in the past three or four games, so that's a positive and we will try to carry some momentum into our midweek game at EIU and then into our conference game on Saturday at Bradley.”
Valpo will step outside of Missouri Valley Conference play for the final time this season on Wednesday with a 3 p.m. kickoff at Eastern Illinois. Live stats will be available.