Central Arkansas (5-5-2, 2-1-0 MVC)
at Valparaiso (4-7-2, 1-1-1 MVC)
Saturday, Oct. 20 – 7 p.m. CT
This Week in Valpo Soccer: A Valpo team that is playing its best soccer of the season over the last three matches will face a tough test on Saturday night as Central Arkansas makes its way to Brown Field. The Bears are the defending conference champions after winning the MVC Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2017. This will mark the penultimate chance to catch Valpo play at home this season.
Previously: Valpo swept its way to a 2-0-0 fall break road trip, notching back-to-back wins for the first time this season. A 2-0 triumph over Bradley allowed Valpo to boost its MVC point total to four. The win over the Braves was the first time Valpo won by a multi-goal cushion this season. Lucca Lacerda scored three of the four goals during the winning week and assisted on the other.
Following Valpo: Live audio and stats from Saturday’s game will be available.
National Honors: Lucca Lacerda scored three goals and had one assist over two matches last week including a brace to lift Valpo to a 2-0 Missouri Valley Conference victory at Bradley on Saturday night. His seven-point week propelled the team to a perfect 2-0-0 fall break road trip and helped him garner College Soccer News National Player of the Week, Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week and a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week. Lacerda claimed the team lead in goals (4), points (9) and game-winning goals (2) after becoming the first Valpo player with a brace this season. He started his impressive week with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 midweek victory over Eastern Illinois. Lacerda joins Central Arkansas' Niklas Brodacki as the only MVC players with a brace in conference play this season.
Getting It Done in Goal: Goalkeeper Nacho Miras put together a 2-0-0 record last week, accumulating five saves over the two matches. After a midweek win over Eastern Illinois, Miras turned in his fourth shutout of the season and the fifth of his collegiate career on Saturday night at Bradley. The 2-0 win in Peoria marked the fifth time Valpo has blanked the opposition in 2018. Miras has played every minute of Valpo's three conference fixtures, including a double-overtime tie against Loyola, and has permitted just one goal over those three Valley games. The clean sheet against Bradley was his second such performance against a Valley opponent in a seven-day span. Miras is knocking on the door of 100 career saves as he currently has 95, 33 of which have come this season.
Keeping It Clean: When Miras picked up his fourth shutout of the season on Saturday at Bradley, he entered the Top 10 in program history for shutouts in a single season with four. With his fifth career shutout, Miras is now tied with Dan D'Angela (1985-1986) and Rich Naden (1988-1990) for seventh on the program's career list. It was the fifth shutout for the team this season, up from one last year. Valpo has permitted just one goal in three conference contests and has allowed one goal or fewer in nine of 13 games.
Multi-Goal Cushion: Winning on the road against a quality Bradley program was a tall task, but the guests were up to the challenge last week. Valpo not only left Peoria with three points, but did so with the Braves facing a two-goal deficit. It was Valpo's first win by multiple goals this season, a feat the team most recently accomplished on Oct. 30 of last year with a 3-1 triumph over Eastern Illinois. The last time the program won a conference game with a multi-goal cushion was on Oct. 29, 2016 against Northern Kentucky.
Outshooting the Opposition: Valpo has not been outshot in the last six games, outshooting the opposition five times and tying in shots once. A stingy Valpo defense permitted just two shots on goal in a conference victory over Bradley, the third time this year the team has allowed two shots on goal or fewer. For the season, Valpo has taken 185 shots and allowed 148.
Scouting the Opponent: After reaching the NCAA Tournament last season, Central Arkansas was picked third in the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll. The Bears have registered Valley victories over Bradley and Evansville, but were on the wrong end of a 1-0 score against Drake. This marks Central Arkansas’ second straight road match as the Bears fell 1-0 at Green Bay last week. Central Arkansas ranks second in the league with 19 goals scored. Niklas Brodacki leads the team and ranks among the MVC leaders in the following categories: goals (7, t-2nd), shots (38, t-2nd), game-winning goals (2, t-3rd) and points (14, 3rd).Goalkeeper Marc Olsen has a 1.42 GAA and owns 28 saves. Head coach Ross Duncan is in his ninth season in charge.
Series Notes – Central Arkansas: Valpo battled Central Arkansas twice last season, both 3-2 finals in favor of the Bears. Adan Garcia scored in both fixtures against Central Arkansas, which came from down 2-1 to win in the second meeting. The two teams had not faced off prior to last season.
Coming From Behind: Valpo recorded its first come-from-behind victory of the season last week. The team was previously 0-7-0 when opponents scored first, but it came from a goal down to register a 2-1 win over Eastern Illinois.
Nil-Nil, Part 2: For the second time this season, Valpo played to a scoreless draw on Oct. 7, this time against Loyola. Valpo 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.
Bonus Soccer: When Valpo and Loyola get together, odds are fans are going to get their money's worth. This year’s game marked the seventh time in the last eight meetings that the two teams have played extra time. It was also Valpo's fourth scoreless draw with the Ramblers since 2012.
Excelling Academically: For the 16th straight year, the Valpo men’s soccer team has been awarded with the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award, as announced on Oct. 4 by the organization. Valpo has the third-longest streak in the nation. The United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award is bestowed upon soccer programs whose student-athletes have excelled in the classroom. The award is given annually, and in order to qualify a program must obtain a composite grade point average of 3.00 or better for the academic year.
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.
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.
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.
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 86 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 is once again raising 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 was on Oct. 7 against Loyola at Brown Field.