*Valparaiso at Cleveland State - Saturday, October 11 - 6 p.m. CDT [Live Stats]
This Weekend’s Action: Valparaiso will look to snap a three-match losing streak as the Crusaders continue Horizon League play at Cleveland State on Saturday evening.
The Matchup: Cleveland State holds an 8-2-0 advantage in the all-time series against Valparaiso, but the Crusaders have taken two of the last three meetings, including a 1-0 victory at Eastgate Field on Nov. 2, 2007 to close out the regular season. Oscar Lomeli scored early in the second half to give Valpo the only goal it would need, and Ryan Schwarz made that tally stand up in net by making a pair of saves.
Recapping Last Week: The Crusaders dropped a pair of hard-fought road matches in Horizon League play last week, falling at Butler, 2-1 in overtime, and losing to Loyola, 2-0.
The Crusaders and Bulldogs played over 80 minutes of scoreless soccer on Friday in Indianapolis until senior forward Oscar Lomeli found the back of the net in the 82nd minute on an assist from Adrian Ortiz. For Lomeli, it was his team-best fourth marker of the year. But the lead was short-lived, as Kyle Pateros tied it up in the 85th minute and Frank Patano then scored the golden goal for Butler in the 97th. Kyle Zobeck made three saves in goal.
Valparaiso and Loyola played a scoreless first half Sunday night in Chicago, Ill., but the Ramblers pulled ahead with a goal in the 57th minute by Alex Jones. The Crusaders had their best opportunity of the game a few minutes later, but J.J. Del Castillo’s shot was just high of the frame, and the Ramblers would get an insurance tally from Eric Gehrig in the 73rd minute. Paul Leitelt led Valpo’s offensive attack with six shot attempts.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will not be broadcasting the Crusaders’ match on Saturday from Cleveland State, but a link for live statistics will be available at www.valpoathletics.com. WVUR is slated to broadcast nine Crusader men’s soccer matches this season, while live stats for all Valpo home matches and select road matches can be accessed through the official Valparaiso athletics website.
Finding the Back of the Net: After suffering seven shutouts during the 2007 season, the Crusader offense is putting goals on the board consistently in the 2008 campaign. Valpo scored in each of its first 11 matches of the season before suffering a shutout loss at Loyola on Sunday, becoming the last Horizon League squad to get shut out. The Crusaders have already tallied 15 goals on the season, surpassing their entire scoring tally from last season.
Zobeck Stopping Shots: Freshman goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck has made his mark on the Crusaders just 12 matches into his first season. Zobeck has already tallied three shutouts, tied for seventh-most in Crusader history, and ranks among the top-five in the Horizon League in save percentage (.772). Zobeck also ranks 26th nationally and third among league netminders with an average of 5.08 saves/match. On the other side of the ball, he became the first Valpo goalkeeper since 2001 to record an assist, picking up a helper Sept. 21 against Western Michigan.
Lomeli Likes to Score: Senior forward Oscar Lomeli has been the Crusaders’ go-to player up front this year, and Lomeli has taken advantage. The Second Team All-League honoree last year scored his team-best fourth goal of the season Friday at Butler and is just outside of the league’s top-five goal scorers. Lomeli also ranks among the Horizon League’s top-ten in shot attempts (28, t-5th) and points (9, 10th).
Ortiz Dishes Out Assists: Sophomore midfielder Adrian Ortiz continues to climb the Crusaders’ all-time assists chart. Ortiz registered his second helper of the year on Lomeli’s goal at Butler, giving him nine career assists and moving him into a four-way tie for ninth place in Valpo history in the category with Mickey Cseri, Marc Riedl and J.J. Ruane. With three more assists, Ortiz would crack Valpo’s top-five all-time.
Picked Sixth: Valpo has been projected to finish sixth in the Horizon League this year by the league’s head coaches. UIC was a unanimous choice to win the league title, followed by Green Bay, Loyola, Butler and Milwaukee. The Crusaders were trailed by Wright State, Detroit and Cleveland State in the polling.
Tournament Teams Highlight Schedule: Four of Valpo’s 18 opponents on the 2008 slate reached the NCAA Tournament last season. The Crusaders have already downed the first two such opponents they have faced, defeating DePaul (1-0) on Aug. 31 and #25/RV Bradley (1-0), which advanced to the 2007 Elite Eight, on Sept. 12. Later this year, Valpo will play at Michigan State before welcoming UIC, which also reached the Elite Eight last season, to Eastgate Field on October 31.