Men's Soccer Draws With FGCU, Earns Tournament Title
Kyle Zobeck earned his first shutout since November 2008. (Ray Acevedo)
Men's Soccer Draws With FGCU, Earns Tournament Title
Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Valparaiso men's soccer team fought to a scoreless double-overtime draw with Florida Gulf Coast Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee, Wis., good enough for the Crusaders to win the Marquette Invitational championship, their second tournament title in as many weekends.  Valpo is now undefeated through four fixtures for the first time in program history.

“I thought today we had to play well because Florida Gulf Coast is a very talented team, very good technically,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery.  “Our defense was as good as it has been all year.  Individually, we very very sharp defensively, and as a group very organized.  We didn't give them any clean looks at goal, and as talented as they are that is a testament to our players.  We've been working on being tighter and more organized in the back and not making silly decisions, and I thought today we got that pretty much all right.”

The tie assured the Crusaders of the tournament championship with a 1-0-1 record, finishing ahead of Santa Clara (1-1-0), Marquette (1-1-0) and FGCU (0-1-1).  Redshirt junior midfielder Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake County/Marquette]) was named the Tournament MVP, while fifth-year senior goalkeeper Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic), junior defender Chadd Sult (South Bend, Ind./John Adams) and sophomore midfielder Kevin Miller (Jefferson City, Mo./Helias) joined Antonijevic on the All-Tournament Team.

“Stefan was rightly the MVP this weekend,” said Avery.  “Both games we played, especially today, he was the most dominant presence on the field.  He's such a big target player, and not only can he win balls with his head, he's also a very technical player who can knock down passes and maintain possession.  He really allows our team to transition into the attack, because he can hold off pressure for a while and allow our team to catch up.  He was a major part of every chance we had this weekend and was definitely a real handful today.”

This year's Crusader side had already matched the best start in program history on Friday with three straight wins to start the year, and then Sunday did what the 1987 and 2006 squads could not in remaining undefeated through four matches.  Dating back to last season, Valpo has secured a result in 10 of its last 11 matches, including seven shutouts during that time frame.

Sunday's contest against the Eagles, while it ended in a scoreless draw, featured plenty of chances for both sides.  Both Valpo and Florida Gulf Coast (2-2-1) were credited with 17 shot attempts, with the two sides combining for 13 shots on goal.  Redshirt sophomore Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West) made six saves in goal for the Crusaders for his first shutout since Nov. 2, 2008, while FGCU netminder Adam Glick made seven stops to earn the clean sheet as well.

“All four of our backs really played well today, but I was especially impressed by Ming (Wei Ming Wong [Hong Kong/Hong Kong International {SMU}]),” said Avery.  “Ming played extremely well today, organizing our back line well and really keeping us together.  He was there anytime we needed a big challenge or important tackle in the back.”

Both squads had numerous attempts for set pieces into the box as well, as they combined for 17 corner kick opportunities, 10 of which went the Crusaders' way.  Valpo had a couple good chances in the overtime sessions for the golden goal, but an attempt from close range by forward Guy Shabtay (Ramat-Gan, Israel/Blich [Prairie State C.C.]) went just over the bar and an effort from Antonijevic went just wide of the frame.

“We had about five really good goal-scoring chances today, certainly enough chances to win the game,” said Avery.  “If you look back over the last couple years, there's not been many games we've been shutout.  But all told, it was a good weekend for us: we didn't give up any goals and are coming home with another tournament title.  Now we focus on a big road game Friday at IUPUI to try to stay undefeated.  If you had told me before the season started we'd be 3-0-1 right now, I would have taken that happily.”

Valparaiso (3-0-1) will look to continue its unbeaten streak to open the 2010 campaign on Friday, as the Crusaders close their season-opening five-game road trip at IUPUI.  Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. CDT, and live stats for the match will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.