Thursday, October 12, 2006THIS WEEK:
IUPUI at Valpo (Saturday, 12:00 p.m.)
ON THE AIR:
Saturday's match with the Jaguars will be carried live on WVUR, 95.1 FM and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Adam Amin and Adam Tein will call the play-by-play action live from Eastgate.
THIS WEEK'S MATCHUP:
Valpo will take on IUPUI Saturday afternoon in the Crusaders' final Mid-Con home match of the season, trying for a school record tying sixth win of the season at home. Only the 1987 team won six times on their home surface, and no Crusader team has ever won six times at Eastgate Field in a single year. The Brown and Gold will play one more time after Saturday at home, celebrating senior day October 25 against Eastern Illinois. Saturday will also give the Crusaders a chance at their eighth win of the season overall, which would tie as the second winningest season in school history. The 1997 Crusaders went 8-12-1 and won the Mid-Con Regular Season Title, but the 1987 team is the winningest of all-time, going 9-6-1 in just the program's fifth season of existence under then-head coach Danny Jeftich.
The Jaguars are one of many teams fighting for a spot in the Mid-Con Tournament, entering the week 1-2-0 in league play and 6-7-0 overall. IUPUI is one of four conference teams with two losses, joining UMKC, Centenary and Oakland in a log jam behind Valpo and Western Illinois. The Jaguars, winners of two of their last three matches, did lose last weekend at home to Oakland 2-1. IUPUI has not won a road match in the Mid-Con this season, losing in their only venture away from home 2-1 to Oral Roberts on September 23. Junior Vangel Nacovski, a two-time First Team All-Conference midfielder, is the unquestioned star of the Jags, leading the team with nine goals, tops in the Mid-Con. Nacovski has taken a league-high 50 shots this season and has scored 28 goals in his career, fourth in IUPUI history. All-time, Valpo holds a 8-4-1 advantage in the series thanks to back-to-back wins over the Jaguars. Last season, the Crusaders knocked off IUPUI at Kuntz Stadium in Indianapolis 1-0 and in 2004 the Brown and Gold earned a 2-0 win at Eastgate Field. The Crusaders are 5-1-0 all-time against the Jags in Valpo.
Valpo took a break from conference play with a pair of road matches. Tuesday, the Crusaders headed west to take on regionally ranked Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., and suffered a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Wildcats. Valpo came back Sunday, however, to defeat IPFW 2-0 in Fort Wayne, Ind.
THE MID-CON RACE:
As muddied as ever, the Crusaders have a chance to extend themselves above the Mid-Con's mid-pack cluster with a win Saturday over IUPUI. In anything but a predictable year in the conference, the defending tournament champions, Western Illinois, are the only unblemished team at 3-0. Next comes Valpo at 2-1 despite being predicted to finish second from the bottom in the conference. From there, every other Mid-Con team has at least two losses, including preseason conference favorite Oakland and surprising Centenary (a unanimous pick to finish last) at 2-2. IUPUI and UMKC are 1-2, and Oral Roberts, picked third in the league, sits last at 1-3, on the verge of being eliminated from the conference tournament. With three Mid-Con matches scheduled for Saturday, the conference tournament picture will become much clearer at the conclusion of the day's action.
For the second straight week, the Brown and Gold are in the number nine spot in the NSCAA's Midwest Regional poll. The Crusaders have been ranked since September 5, reaching as high as the number six spot. This is the first season a Valpo men's soccer team has ever been ranked by the NSCAA and it is also, not coincidentally, the latest a Valpo team has been above .500 since 1987.
ALL HE DOES:
Is score match winners. Steve Shively
certainly has a knack for the timely goal, and he continued his unprecedented run Sunday at IPFW, putting the Crusaders in front for good with his fourth goal of the year in the 12th minute. Of Shively's four goals, all four have been match winners, second in the Mid-Con. The Indianapolis native had the match winning goal in the first two matches of the year, and has now scored the match winner in the last two Crusader wins. Even Shively's last goal as a prep was a match-winner when he gave North Central the Indiana State Championship with a goal in the final 30 seconds of the title match.
Another of Valpo's fine freshmen, keeper Ryan Schwarz
had a well deserved day off Sunday after playing the first 1003:41 of the season in goal. Schwarz also has four shutouts this year, a freshman record, and is two shy of the school record.