Valparaiso (6-2-3, 3-0-2 Horizon)
First-place Crusaders embark on stretch of four consecutive road tilts
Tuesday, Oct. 11 – 3 p.m. CT – Kalamazoo, Mich. – at Western Michigan (8-3-2)
Saturday, Oct. 15 - 7 p.m. CT – Green Bay, Wis. – at Green Bay (2-7-2, 1-2-2 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso University men's soccer team hits the road to begin a four-game journey away from Brown Field on Tuesday night with a nonleague fixture at Western Michigan. Then, the Crusaders head to Green Bay to resume Horizon League play on Saturday evening.
Previously: Valpo and Milwaukee played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at Brown Field. The Crusaders built a 1-0 lead behind a Matthew Gweh goal in the 40th minute, but the Panthers equalized in the 51st minute. Gweh’s goal was his second of the season.
Looking Ahead: The road-heavy slate continues next week as the Crusaders play at Fort Wayne on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. CT, then make the short trek to UIC on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.
Following the Crusaders: Live video and stats courtesy of Western Michigan will be available on Tuesday night. Live stats will also be available for Saturday’s match. Links to coverage of both games can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his 10th season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns 70 career victories. Under Avery's guidance, the Crusaders have been a stellar defensive side, posting eight of the top-10 defensive seasons in program history over the first nine seasons and earning five league Goalkeeper of the Year accolades. Avery has led the Crusaders to a new standard in his time as head coach, as a program which had enjoyed just one winning season in the 24 years prior to his arrival has finished above the .500 mark five of the last seven years. He has also seen numerous players go on to play professional soccer, most recently Jordan Aidoud in his native France.
Series Notes: Tuesday marks the 23rd all-time meeting between the Broncos and Crusaders, with Western Michigan holding a 13-8-1 edge in head-to-head matchups. A year ago, the two sides clashed for the first time since 2012. The Crusaders prevailed 2-0 against the Broncos, who were then ranked No. 18 in the nation. Isaiah Madrid scored in the second minute, then Jordan Aidoud provided an insurance goal in the 85th minute. Nico Campbell notched four saves in the match. Green Bay holds a commanding 13-3-2 lead over Valpo in an all-time series that goes back to 1986. However, the Crusaders own the most recent success, prevailing 3-0 against the Phoenix in the 2015 regular season finale. Howell, Aidoud and Suleiman Thomas scored for Valpo, while Campbell recorded six saves.
Scouting the Broncos: After sprinting to seven wins in their first eight fixtures (7-1-0), Western Michigan has notched just one win over the last five (1-2-2). Four straight Western Michigan matches have gone to overtime. The Broncos have racked up seven shutouts on the year. Junior Brandon Bye is the team leader with seven goals and ranks 12th in the nation with 19 points. In addition, Bye is second in the Mid-American Conference in both goals and points, chasing only Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone (11 goals, 29 points). As a team, Western Michigan is tied for the league lead in goals with 23. Goalkeeper Drew Shepherd ranks third in the MAC with an 0.68 GAA and has 32 total saves.
Scouting the Phoenix: Green Bay has come away with draws in each of its last two matches, Oct. 1 against Cleveland State and Saturday against Belmont. Neither team scored in the match against the Bruins. The Phoenix visit in-state foe Wisconsin on Tuesday before welcoming the Crusaders. Green Bay, under the direction of second-year head coach Jeremy Bonomo, are currently in seventh in the Horizon League with five points. The Phoenix have just four goals all season, the fewest in the league. Andre Baires is the only Phoenix player with multiple goals (2). Goalkeeper Kyle Ihn is third in the league with 44 saves and has posted a 1.40 GAA.
Unbeaten Streak Continues: Although Valpo’s four-match winning streak came to a close on Saturday, the team did extend its unbeaten streak to five by virtue of the draw with the Panthers. The Crusaders still have some work to do to reach the program record, which was established a year ago when they went eight straight matches without a defeat.
Valpo’s goal-scoring machine: With seven goals on the season, senior Isaiah Madrid is two shy of cracking Valpo’s all-time single-season Top 10. Valpo’s record was set by Brian Thiel in 1989 when he scored 14 goals. Madrid is one of 33 players in the nation with at least seven goals. He has already established a new career high. Madrid is tied for 16th in the nation with 17 points.
Balanced Attack: Although Madrid’s seven goals lead the team by a wide margin, the Crusaders have a balanced offensive attack this season. With Gweh’s goal on Saturday, five Valpo players have multiple goals this season. In the league, only Milwaukee (6) has more players with two goals or more, while Cleveland State also has five.
Goalkeeping Stalwart: Nico Campbell has become a fixture in net for the Crusaders. He moved into second place in program history with 18 career shutouts last week. The senior ranks fourth in the league in saves with 32, tied for second in shutouts with three and fourth in GAA at 1.08.
Crusaders Picked Fourth in Preseason Poll: Valpo has been picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League in 2016, according to preseason polling of the league’s head coaches. The Crusaders did pick up three first-place votes, matching the most of any team in the league. Valpo totaled 60 points in the polling, including its three first-place nods, to finish in fourth place, just three points behind UIC (one first-place vote). Oakland and Wright State each received three first-place votes and tied atop the preseason poll with 73 points.
Looking Back at 2015: Last season, the Crusaders posted a 7-6-5 record - one which included a 2-1-1 mark against sides ranked in the top-25 nationally, the first time in program history the team had defeated multiple top-25 programs in the same season. Nico Campbell was tabbed the league's Goalkeeper of the Year, while Omar Lawrence and Isaiah Madrid both earned NSCAA Third Team All-Region honors.
An Experienced Side: Nine of last season’s 11 starters return for the Crusaders in 2016, while in all 15 players are back from last year’s squad. Valpo surely ranks among the nation’s oldest teams, as the squad features a total of 13 seniors.
Flying Many Flags: Head coach Mike Avery and his coaching staff pull from all over the world for players to comprise the Crusader men’s soccer squad. The 2016 Valpo side features 19 international-born players from 12 different countries. Leading the way is the contingent from Jamaica, as Valpo counts seven Jamaicans on its roster for the 2016 campaign.
#oneVALPO: The Crusader men’s soccer program will continue to promote its #oneVALPO campaign, a campaign started last year to celebrate 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.
Crusaders Working With TOCO: Each home game, the Senior in the Spotlight shirts that are tossed out to fans will feature the logo of They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO). Throughout the 2016 season, the Crusaders will be working to raise money and awareness for TOCO’s work through sport with at risk children in the Caribbean and United States. As part of this effort, men’s soccer will be working with Valpo women’s volleyball to fund a future international service trip, bringing the student-athletes of these two teams to the Caribbean to get on the ground with TOCO and work directly with children the charity supports.