The Valparaiso men’s soccer team took to the pitch against outside competition for the first time in the 2011 season Saturday night at Brown Field, out-shooting Oakland 12-4 as the exhibition contest ended in a 0-0 draw.
“I thought that for the first 30 minutes, we were very good, in the second 30, we were good, and then in the last 30 I thought we started to lose our legs and got a little tired,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “But Oakland is a very good team; they won their conference championship last year and have been to the NCAA Tournament. They also just beat Michigan State in an exhibition on Thursday, so the result, even though we thought maybe we could have done more in terms of finishing, was still a good result in a very good exhibition game.”
The Crusaders had a good opportunity to find the back of the net early in the opening half, as senior Guy Shabtay (Ramat-Gan, Israel/Blich [Prairie State C.C.]) corralled the ball on the left side of the box in the 11th minute and flicked it over a defender towards the upper-left corner of the goal. The ball ricocheted off the corner of the framework, however, keeping the game scoreless.
Oakland would register the game’s first shot on goal late in the first half, its only shot of the opening 45 minutes, but Andrew Barrett’s shot from distance was easily gobbled up by redshirt junior goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck (Coralville, Iowa/Iowa City West). Valpo freshman Eric Nieto (Louisville, Ky./Louisville Collegiate) posted the Crusaders’ first shot on goal in the 43rd minute, but that was stopped by Scott Messer as the game went into the half at nil-nil.
Shabtay had another scoring chance come his way in the 50th minute, as the senior took a free kick from 25 yards out, just right of center. He sent his strike on goal, aiming for the inside of the left post, but Messer was there for the save for the Grizzlies. Despite out-shooting Oakland in the second half, 6-3, Valpo was unable to get any other opportunities on frame as the fixture ended in a scoreless tie. With the game being an exhibition contest, no overtime was played on Saturday.
Valpo’s 12 shots came courtesy of seven different players, as Shabtay led the way with three efforts. The Crusaders also ended the game with a 3-0 advantage on corner kicks. Zobeck had to make just the one save for his clean sheet, while Messer stopped two shots in his 67 minutes of play before being relieved by Wes Smith.
Valparaiso opens the 2011 regular season at Brown Field on Friday night, as the Crusaders welcome Calumet College for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The game can be heard live on www.sportsjuice.com, while live stats will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.