The tough-luck Horizon League campaign for the Valparaiso men’s soccer team continued Saturday evening in Cleveland, Ohio, as the Crusaders fell victim to an 86th minute goal as Cleveland State earned the 1-0 victory.
All four of the Crusaders’ losses in league play this season have come by just one goal, the last three all being 1-0 decisions. After starting the season with three straight wins in 1-0 games, Valpo has now been on the wrong end of those games three straight times.
“I’m proud of the guys, because I thought we played very well tonight,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “Cleveland State has lost just once in the last couple years at home. They’re a good team that definitely plays very well at home. We came in tonight and actually handled a lot of the game, creating a lot of good chances and probably out-chancing them on the night.”
Valpo was right with the Vikings all night long, holding edges in shot attempts (9-7) and corner kicks (7-3). The best sustained pressure by the Crusader offense came in the later portions of the second half, as Valpo earned four corner kicks within a two-minute span. It finally registered a shot attempt on the fourth corner, but Jake Freisinger’s (Saint John, Ind./Lake Central) attempt was stopped by CSU netminder Brad Stuver.
The save was one of five that Stuver made on the evening, three coming in the opening 45 minutes. Meanwhile, Ryan Schwarz (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) made a trio of stops in goal for Valpo, but Cleveland State (6-6-0, 3-2-0 Horizon) found the game’s lone tally on its final shot attempt. Aaron Adkins found Aslinn Rodas in on a breakaway, and Rodas’ shot ricocheted off the post and into the back of the net.
“Give credit to Cleveland State, they found the way to win on a pretty nice goal off the post,” said Avery. “It’s been one of those years for us in the Horizon League. We’ve had a lot of balls off the post bounce away, while other teams get the good bounce. All we can do is keep working and keep playing good soccer and hopefully the bounces start going our way.”
Valparaiso (6-4-2, 1-4-0 Horizon) steps out of league play for 14 days, during which time it has a trio of non-league contests. The first such game comes on Wednesday, October 13 as the Crusaders make the trip to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan, which is receiving votes in the latest national poll. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CDT, and all the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have a link for live stats.
“With a couple weeks until our next league game, we have some exciting non-league games between now and then,” said Avery. “I still see exciting things within this team, so we just are going to keep playing hard and be sharp for the last set of league games.”