The Valparaiso University men’s soccer program has announced its schedule for the 2019 season, featuring three exhibitions, 10 Missouri Valley Conference matches and seven nonconference fixtures.
After exhibition dates vs. Eastern Illinois (Aug. 15), at Xavier (Aug. 20) and vs. Purdue Fort Wayne (Aug. 25), head coach Mike Avery’s team will open the regular season on Aug. 30 at Green Bay. The home opener will occur on Sept. 2 when first-year program IU Northwest comes to Brown Field. The RedHawks are under the direction of head coach Jordan Lewis, who graduated from Valpo in 2012 after playing for Avery.
Five of the first six matches of the season will take place on the road, including nonconference games at UIC (Sept. 6), SMU (Sept. 13) and Oral Roberts (Sept. 15). SMU and UIC both reached the NCAA Tournament in 2018 by earning automatic qualifying spots out of the American Conference and Horizon League, respectively. The visit to Dallas will mark the first meeting between Valpo and SMU, while UIC and Green Bay are both back on the schedule for the first time since 2016.
The early-season road stretch continues with the Missouri Valley Conference opener on Sept. 18 at Missouri State. This year, the six-team league will feature a 10-game double-round robin format with Valpo facing each Valley foe both at home and on the road during the regular season. Valpo starts with a tough test as Missouri State lost just two regular season matches last season and went 6-1-1 at home.
Valpo will return to Brown Field for a pair of home Valley matches against Evansville (Sept. 22) and Drake (Sept. 25) before returning to the road for a string of five straight away fixtures. That stretch includes visits to Bradley (Sept. 29), SIU Edwardsville (Oct. 5), Loyola (Oct. 12), Milwaukee (Oct. 19) and Drake (Oct. 23). Three of the final four games of the season will be at home with Valpo hosting Bradley (Oct. 27), Missouri State (Oct. 30) and Loyola (Nov. 9) while traveling to Evansville (Nov. 3).
The 2019 MVC Men’s Soccer Championship will be in Chicago and will be played at Loyola Soccer Park. The Ramblers hosted the women’s championship a year ago but have never hosted the event in men’s soccer. Games will take place on Nov. 13, 15 and 17.
Valpo closed the 2018 regular season with a six-game unbeaten stretch, marking the longest season-ending unbeaten stretch in program history. Valpo finished the regular season third in the conference standings, the highest finish by Valpo in any sports since the University joined the Missouri Valley Conference in July 2017. Valpo finished 2018 with just one conference setback, the fourth time in program history the team has achieved that feat.