The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team saw its season come to an end on Monday night in Milwaukee, Wis. The Crusaders and Panthers played to a scoreless draw through 110 minutes, but Milwaukee converted on all five penalty kicks to take the shootout and advance to the Horizon League Tournament semifinals. This marks the second time in the last three years that the Valpo season has ended on a penalty kick shootout in the first round of the tournament.
How It Happened
- The Panthers kept their season alive by converting all five attempts in the shootout. The Crusaders went 3-for-4, with Suleiman Thomas, Kendan Anderson and Demar Rose successfully converting their penalty kicks.
- Valpo’s fifth attempt was rendered unnecessary when Francesco Saporito placed one inside the left post, out of the reach of a sprawling Nico Campbell. The Panthers notched their first tournament win since 2013 and secured a semifinal date with UIC on Thursday at Wright State.
- The two teams had quality chances in succession late in the second overtime. Josh Kaye notched a critical team save to knock away a header by Omar Lawrence in the 106th minute. The opportunity was set up on a corner kick by Thomas, just Valpo’s second corner of the match and first since the first half.
- The Panthers quality chance came in the 108th minute, when a header by Sean Reynolds went wide right. Matthew Gweh trickled a shot wide right in the 100th minute. It was deflected over the goal line, setting up a late corner by Thomas, but not enough time remained for the Crusaders to cash in.
- The first overtime featured minimal action. There were only two shots by the Panthers and one by the Crusaders. Valpo’s only shot in the first 10 minutes of extra time was placed on goal by Gweh in the 97th minute, but saved by Milwaukee goalkeeper Oliver Haslund.
- Each team had two shots on goal in the first half. Valpo’s came in consecutive fashion early in the half with Thomas and Madrid both placing shots on goal, while Campbell turned away efforts by Evan Conway and Nick Moon. After Madrid’s shot in the 12th minute, the Crusaders didn’t necessitate another Haslund save until the 48th minute.
- Haslund had three saves in the second half, while Campbell collected four.
- Overall, the Crusaders outshot the Panthers 22-16 and had seven shots on goal to Milwaukee’s six.
Inside the Match
- Campbell, named to the Horizon League all-second team earlier in the day, notched his 22nd career shutout in his final game in a Valpo kit. He finished one clean sheet shy of matching Kyle Zobeck’s program record.
- Madrid finished the season with 10 goals and 25 points. He was the sixth Valpo player to score double-figure goals in a single season and first to reach 25 points in the last 25 years. He finished his illustrious career with 15 goals and 37 points in just two seasons.
- Anderson’s short-lived Valpo career, which lasted just 12 matches due to transferring in before his senior year and missing half of the regular season with injury, featured its fair share of highlights. He scored eight goals, three coming when he turned the fastest hat trick in NCAA history on Halloween against IUPUI.
- Valpo finished the season with 10 wins, tying for the most in program history.
- The Crusaders say goodbye to a deep, talented senior class after Monday’s match. They lose 13 seniors to graduation.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“It's never easy to end a season this way, so we are all struggling a bit to make sense of everything right now, but I was very proud of the guys tonight. I thought we played very, very well. Milwaukee is a good team and it was a tight game that didn't have a lot of chances, but I thought we really looked like we were deserving of a bit more. We had a handful of good chances, including a ball cleared off the line that may have even crossed over into the goal before it was cleared, but at the end of the day soccer is very often a fickle game. All we can do now is hold our heads high, wish Milwaukee well in the next round, and celebrate what has been a tremendous season.
In all my years of coaching, I don't know that I have ever been around a team that I have enjoyed as much - and that's saying something as I have been a part of some really great teams. These are young men that have represented the very best of Valparaiso University. Selfless leaders on and off the field, committed to each other and to a common cause, it's no secret why they put together one of the best seasons in program history. This group of seniors will leave an amazing legacy, a strong culture, and the continued success of future teams will be in large part due to the example they've set. It's really been my honor to coach them.”