*Valparaiso at Butler - Friday, October 3 - 12:30 p.m. CDT [Live Stats]
*Valparaiso at Loyola - Sunday, October 5 - 6 p.m.
This Weekend’s Action: Valparaiso continues Horizon League play this week with a pair of league tilts, traveling to take on in-state foe Butler on Friday at 12:30 p.m. CDT before facing Loyola in Chicago on Sunday at 6 p.m.
The Matchups: Butler holds a 10-1-0 advantage in the all-time series against the Crusaders, including a 4-1 victory at Eastgate Field on Sept. 23, 2007 in the two sides’ first meeting as Horizon League foes. The Bulldogs scored once in the first half and extended its lead to 3-0 before Zack Stivers registered his first career goal on a penalty kick in the 74th minute .
Loyola and Valpo have faced off 14 times on the pitch, with the Ramblers holding the series edge, 10-2-2. The Crusaders opened up their inaugural Horizon League slate last year against Loyola at Toyota Park on Sept. 16, earning a 1-1 (2ot) draw. Steve Shively scored in the 60th minute on assists by Adrian Ortiz and Jake Freisinger to put the Crusaders ahead, but the Ramblers netted a goal in the 87th minute for the draw. Ryan Schwarz stopped eight shots in net for the Crusaders.
Recapping Last Week: Valparaiso opened Horizon League action last week and went 0-1-1 in two matches.
The Crusaders welcomed Milwaukee to Eastgate Field for the opener on Friday, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of goals by Andrew Stewart and Oscar Lomeli in the first 25 minutes. But the Panthers converted on a PK in the 37th minute to cut the deficit in half, and added another goal with under a minute to play for the tie. Kyle Zobeck made eight saves in net for Valpo.
Rodolfo Lucas found the back of the net for the first time in his career against Wright State on Sunday, knotting up the match at one with just over ten minutes to play, but the Raiders scored the eventual match-winner in the 85th minute to earn a 2-1 victory. The Crusaders out-shot the Raiders 17-13 on the match.
Following the Crusaders: WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will not be broadcasting either of the Crusaders’ matches this weekend. Live statistics will be available at www.valpoathletics.com for Friday’s match at Butler. 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 has scored in each of its first ten matches of the season and 12 straight dating back to last year. The Crusaders have already put 14 balls in the back of the net this year, matching their entire scoring tally from last season. The Crusaders are also the only Horizon League squad not to suffer a shutout in 2008.
Zobeck Stopping Shots: Freshman goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck has made his mark on the Crusaders just ten 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 (.794). Zobeck also ranks 15th nationally and second among league netminders with an average of 5.4 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.
A Weekend of Firsts: Junior midfielder Rodolfo Lucas, who transferred to Valpo from Coffeyville C.C. this past offseason, broke into the scoring column this past weekend in both matches. The Mogi Mirim, Brazil native tallied his first Division I point against Milwaukee, assisting on the Crusaders’ first goal of the match. On Sunday, against Wright State, Lucas put a free kick into the back of the net from 30 yards out for his first marker in the Valpo kit.
Setting Down Ranked Foes: Valparaiso’s win over #25/RV Bradley on Sept. 12 was the first time in six seasons that the Crusaders had defeated a top-25 opponent. Valpo downed then-#22 Wisconsin on Sept. 13, 2002 by a 2-1 count in Valparaiso. This season’s win over the Braves is the second straight positive result for Valpo against ranked teams, following a 1-1 tie with #19/17 Michigan State last year on Oct. 21.
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.