The Valparaiso University men’s soccer program said goodbye to an accomplished senior class on Wednesday following a 2-1 overtime defeat to Drake in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Evansville. The Bulldogs used a golden goal in the second overtime to advance with the narrow victory.
How It Happened
- Valpo (5-8-4) found itself facing an early deficit when Leroy Enzugusi took a cross that tipped off the goalkeeper’s hands and headed it into the lower left to make it 1-0 Drake in the fourth minute. Lucas Bartlett was credited with the assist.
- Demar Rose (Kingston, Jamaica / Wolmer’s Boys School) had space in the eighth minute but saw his shot veer narrowly left. Valpo had another chance a minute later, but Drake goalkeeper Jared Brown made his first save of the day on a shot by Dylan Waugaman (Houston, Texas / Friendswood [Oregon State]).
- Rose made another well-timed run out of the midfield in the 26th minute and was led by a ball from Mason Marcey (Charlotte, N.C. / Charlotte Christian [Radford]), but the shot went wide.
- Tyler Curylo (Palatine, Ill. / Palatine [Heartland Community College]) scooped up the rebound off a save that stopped an Adan Garcia shot in the 37th minute and finished lower left to level the score at one. Garcia was credited with the assist after a nifty move at the top of the box that led to the initial shot.
- Joe Kouadio (London, England / Moorland School) struck one with authority in the 42nd minute, but Brown made a strong save to keep it tied at one.
- Valpo held an 8-6 edge in shots in the opening half and also placed four shots on goal to Drake’s one.
- In the 48th minute, Miras made a courageous diving effort, throwing his body in front of Enzugusi to hook the ball away and avert a near certain goal. That narrow escape kept it even at one, then Miras made another quality save in the 53rd minute.
- Miras made a significant, impressive save in the 56th minute when a header shot by Juan Louis was turned away. He continued to stand tall with another fine stop to knock away a header shot by Enna ticketed for the upper portion of the goal.
- Brown was forced into another save in the 73rd minute when Matthew King (Edmonton, Alberta / Louis St. Laurent [Grand Canyon]) placed a shot on goal.
- Miras made yet another important save in the 88th minute, cutting the angle on Enzugusi to make a stop that kept the game knotted.
- Brown made a pair of saves early in overtime, stopping Valpo shots by Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) and Curylo.
- The Bulldogs (7-6-3) punched their ticket to the MVC semifinal with a Steven Enna golden goal in the 105th minute. A shot by Alex Peterson fell to the feet of Enna, who scored inside the 6-yard box.
Inside the Match
- Curylo’s goal was the first of his Valpo career and marked his first points of the season.
- Garcia’s assist allowed him to lift his season assist total to three and point total to five. In addition, he notched the eighth assist and 28th point of his Valpo career.
- Miras equaled a career high and established a season watermark with eight saves.
- Drake outshot Valpo 21-15 in the match while owning a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal. Mentzingen took a team-high three shots for Valpo.
Inside the Season
- The season was filled with accomplishments for Valpo men’s soccer. The team rebounded from a tough midseason stretch to put together a six-game unbeaten streak to close the regular season, marking the longest season-ending unbeaten streak in program history.
- Valpo finished third in the regular season standings, the highest finish by Valpo in any sport since the University joined the Missouri Valley Conference in July 2017. The third-place finish also marked the program’s best regular season finish since 2011, when the team won the Horizon League regular season title.
- Valpo finished the regular season with just one conference setback, the fourth time in program history the team has achieved that feat. The other teams to do so were the Mid-Continent Conference regular season championship teams of 1997 and 1998 and the Horizon League championship team of 2011.
- Valpo allowed 21 goals this season, a mark that ranks tied for eighth in program history for fewest goals allowed in a single season.
- Miras finished the season with a goals against average of 1.13, a mark that ranks tied for seventh in program history for single-season GAA. He also had five shutouts, a total that ranked tied for seventh in program history for shutouts in a single season.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“Congratulations to Drake on a hard fought win. It was a very even game, as most Valley games seem to be, and I thought Drake did exactly what they needed to do to advance. I have great respect for their program - coaches and players - and we’ve enjoyed competing with them. It was a well-earned result for them and we wish them well on Friday.”
“We have struggled all year against very direct teams and today was no different. Drake gets good service from their backs, have a big target to challenge the first ball, and a player with great pace to run off of him. We handled it decently for large stretches, but it did pin us back. We moved the ball through the midfield nicely at times, but ultimately we weren’t patient enough or precise enough in the final phase in front of their goal. It was a game of relatively contrasting styles, and even though it didn’t go our way tonight, I’m still very proud of my team. They left everything on the field and can hold their heads high.”
“We are all disappointed, but for me personally the disappointment isn’t necessarily because we lost the game. My disappointment lies more in the fact that this particular group doesn’t get to play together any longer. I love this team, and I’ve loved every minute of the season with them. These guys endured a challenging season filled with adversity and really found out a lot about themselves. They play with such passion - for the game, for their university and for each other.”
“As I told the guys, the sting of a lost game fades sooner or later. Once it does, you’re left with these incredible lessons applicable to the rest of our lives. You’re also left with lifelong friendships. Ultimately that’s what this experience is about. It’s really been my great honor to be their coach and I thank them, and all of our great supporters, for everything they’ve done for the program.”
“We took some steps this year. Maybe not as many as we would have all liked to take, but we still moved the needle. We had a great run through the second half of the schedule, finished third in a great league and were just a goal away from winning the regular season. This program will be back, stronger than ever, and every single person associated with this season has played a key role.”