ValpoAthletics.com
Crusader Men's Soccer Prepares for Start of League Play
Rodolfo Lucas has started all six matches this season for the Crusaders in the midfield. (Ray Acevedo)
Rodolfo Lucas has started all six matches this season for the Crusaders in the midfield. (Ray Acevedo)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

*Valparaiso at Detroit - Friday, Sept. 25 - 3 p.m. CDT

*Loyola at Valparaiso - Sunday, Sept. 27 - 4 p.m.

Coming Up for the Crusaders: The Horizon League slate gets underway for the Valpo men’s soccer team this weekend, as the Crusaders travel to Detroit on Friday before returning home to Brown Field for a matchup against Loyola on Sunday.

The Matchups: Valpo (3-3-0) trails the all-time series with Detroit (1-4-1) 8-5-0, but the Crusaders have emerged victorious in both meetings since joining the Horizon League, including a 3-0 victory at Brown Field in the regular season finale on Nov. 2, 2008.  Paul Leitelt scored the eventual match-winner, while Israel Bisoni also tallied his first career goal.  Kyle Zobeck made eight saves in net for the shutout.

Loyola (3-1-1) holds an 11-2-2 advantage in the series all-time over Valpo, earning two wins over the Crusaders in Chicago last season, including a 4-1 decision in the first round of the Horizon League Championship on Nov. 6, 2008.  The Ramblers got out to a 3-0 lead within the first 23 minutes to take control of the game.  Leitelt scored Valpo’s lone goal in the 61st minute off an assist by Ken Perkins.

Previously: Valpo had its two-match winning streak snapped last time out, falling to Saint Francis (Pa.) at Brown Field this past Sunday, 2-1.  The Red Flash struck quickly, going up two goals within the first 11 minutes, a deficit which the Crusaders would not be able to overcome.  Kevin Miller did provide a bright side for Valpo, making his Crusader debut and scoring his first career goal late in the first half, assisted by Steve Shively and Ken Perkins.

Following the Crusaders:  The sports staff at Valparaiso’s campus radio station, WVUR 95.1 FM, will be broadcasting the match against the Ramblers live over its airwaves and online at www.valpoathletics.com, but will not be broadcasting the Detroit match.  Both contests will have live stats links available through the official Crusader website.

New Goal Scorers: Freshman Kevin Miller, who was playing in his first varsity match after starting the season on the reserve squad, scored his first career goal this past Sunday against Saint Francis.  Miller became the fourth Valpo player this year to score his first goal in a Crusader kit, joining fellow freshman Jaymie Bullard (9/1, Eastern Illinois), redshirt sophomore Stefan Antonijevic (9/13, IUPUI) and redshirt sophomore Brendan Roth (9/16, Western Michigan).

Shively Helping Out: Senior Steve Shively was one of the Crusaders’ most potent goal scorers over his first three seasons, finding the back of the net 13 times.  While he has not struck a goal yet this season, Shively has still been a critical part of the Valpo offense, as after recording just one assist in his first three years, the senior already has three this year, leading the team and tied for third in the Horizon League.  Shively has tallied assists in each of Valpo’s last two games, including on the match-winner at Western Michigan.

Stivers Leading the Way: Junior Zack Stivers has led the Crusader offense this year, matching his career total entering the season with three goals.  The three markers is tied for second in the Horizon League, while his seven points is tied for third.  After not having scored a match-winner in his first two years, he found the back of the net in overtime for the deciding goal versus both IUPUI and Western Michigan.

Double the Pleasure:
Freshman Jaymie Bullard got his career off to a fast start against Eastern Illinois in his first career game, finding the back of the net in just the fourth minute of play.  He then added another marker in the 62nd minute, becoming the first Crusader freshman to score twice in their first career match since Kent Hediger found the back of the net twice against Purdue-Calumet in 1984.

Iron Men:
Two Crusaders have been a part of Valpo’s 11 men on the field every second this year to date.  Goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz has seen all the action in net, while Adrian Ortiz, who has played in all 42 matches in his career, has shifted to defense this year and has not come off the pitch through the Crusaders’ first six matches.

Tabbed Sixth: Valparaiso has been projected to finish sixth in the Horizon League this season in preseason polling of the league’s nine head coaches.  UIC received six of the nine first-place votes and tallied 62 points to be tabbed the preseason favorite.  Loyola registered two first-place votes en route to 56 points, while Butler received the remaining nod for the top spot, recording 49 points.  Cleveland State (44 pts.) and Green Bay (38 pts.) preceded the Crusaders, who registered 25 points, in the polling.  Milwaukee (22 pts.), Wright State (16 pts.) and Detroit (12 pts.) rounded out the preseason projections.