Official Athletic Site of the Valparaiso University Crusaders
Crusader Men Ready for 2005 Campaign

Friday, August 19, 2005

Optimism abounds around the Valparaiso University men's soccer program heading into the 2005 season.

Head coach Mis' Mrak heads into his 15th season leading the Brown and Gold, and returns 14 letterwinners, including eight starters, from last year's squad. In 2004, the Crusaders finished the year 4-11-3 overall and 1-3-2 in the Mid-Continent Conference. This season, Valpo hopes to improve upon its sixth place finish in the league.

The Crusaders return four of their top five scorers from one year ago, and most of the defensive corps is back for another season. Mrak also returns a pair of goaltenders that saw action last season. Five freshman and a transfer also moves into the mix this season, as Valpo looks to once again return to the Mid-Con Tournament.

Offensively, the top two scorers for the Brown and Gold return and look to add fuel to the Crusader attack again this season. Jon Brighton led the Crusaders in scoring with five goals and 11 points last season, while transfer D.J. Catrow made an immediate impact for Valpo in his first season wearing the Brown and Gold. The Second Team All Mid-Con selection dished out four assists and tallied eight points.

Junior Jeremy Stacy had four assists and six total points for the Crusaders while Phillip Dennis came off of the bench to score a pair of goals for Valpo in his rookie season last year.

Senior Tim Bowington returns for his final season at Valpo and should add an attacking presence as well for the Crusaders. Last year, he started all 13 matches he played in after recovering from an injury. Junior J.J. Eschenburg added valuable depth off of the bench for the Crusaders last season, registering a pair of assists, and will look to be called upon even more this season. Greg Gibson returns to the line-up in the offensive half as well for the Crusaders after missing last season as a medical redshirt.

Valpo's defensive line-up may be the strength of the team. Led by seniors Nate Hyde and Nate Balfanz, the Crusaders will look to turn team's aside in the defensive half of the field. Hyde has been a four-year starter for the Brown and Gold while Balfanz has started 34 matches over the past two years. Balfanz also earned Second Team All Mid-Continent Conference honors last season for his work along the Crusaders backline.

Chris Goss has also been a mainstay among the Crusader defenders over the past two years. After missing his freshman season as a redshirt, the fourth-year junior has turned in a pair of solid seasons for the Crusaders.

A trio of juniors will also battle to make a difference in the line-up this year for the Crusaders. John Allendorf, Henrik Turk, and Mark Wolka all played pivotal roles for the Brown and Gold last season. Allendorf, who played on the reserve team as a freshman, appeared in all 18 matches, making ten starts, while scoring a goal and adding an assist. Turk added 11 starts on the backline for the Crusaders, and has seen action in 32 matches over two years. Wolka joined Turk on the backline, drawing seven starts in 2004 after seeing action in just five contests in his rookie season.

Massachusetts transfer Tyler Pagano is the only other Crusader field player to have experience at the collegiate level, joining the squad after starting 18 of 19 matches for the Minutemen last year.

In goal, senior Jeff Oleck has been a mainstay for the Crusaders since he arrived on campus. He has started all 49 matches in which he has appeared during his career, and is second on Valpo's all-time shutout list with nine. He has tallied a 2.14 goals against average for the Crusaders in three seasons. Sean McGinnis will again back Oleck up in the net. The redshirt-sophomore saw action in three contests last year, including one starting assignment.

Five freshmen will also join the line-up this season, looking to make their mark on the program from the beginning.

Mrak has a challenging schedule for his squad this season, with five of the first six matches scheduled away from Eastgate Field. The Crusaders will open the season on September 2 in Buffalo, N.Y. at the Bulls Classic. Valpo will face tournament host Buffalo in the opening match before battling Canisius on day two. The Crusaders also travel to non-conference foes Butler, Eastern Illinois, Western Michigan, and Cleveland State this season.

Valpo's home opener is set for September 11 as the Brown and Gold entertains Northern Illinois. The Crusaders open Mid-Continent Conference action on September 24 at home against UMKC, and also have conference opponents Centenary and Western Illinois visiting Eastgate Field.

The home schedule also sees visits from four other non-conference teams, including IPFW, Detroit, Xavier (Ohio), and Michigan State in the regular season finale on November 6. The Crusaders then look to travel to Kansas City, Mo. November 11 and 13 for the Mid-Con Soccer Tournament.

The pieces are in place for Mrak's team heading into 2005. If everything comes together, with a solid corps of returnees joining a talented incoming class, the Valpo men's soccer team could move back toward the top of the Mid-Con standings.
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 5th/17 (20)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 11 9th/18 (12)
M Tennis Valpo 5 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 11 Detroit 2
Baseball Youngstown State 7 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 11 Valpo 10
M Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (48)
W Track Chicagoland Championships Romeoville, Ill.
Apr 12 6th/20 (60.50)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 12 3rd/6 (335); 4th/6 (350)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 12 t-7th/13 (588)
M Soccer St. Joseph's College Eastgate Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo
Baseball Youngstown State 1 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 13
Softball Cleveland State 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 10:00 a.m. Valpo 2
Volleyball Western Michigan/Butler/Eastern Michigan ARC
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo
Softball Cleveland State 4 VU Softball Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 6
Baseball Youngstown State 12 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Valpo 4
W Tennis Valpo 1 Detroit, Mich.
Apr 12, 1:45 p.m. Detroit 6
M Soccer Benedictine Brown Field
Apr 12, 4:00 p.m. Valpo
W Soccer Haitian National Team Brown Field
Apr 12, 7:00 p.m. Valpo
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Ohio Northern Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 3:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22, 5:00 p.m. Western Illinois
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana