Valparaiso (5-8-5, 2-2-3 Horizon)
Tuesday, November 6 - 7:30 p.m. - Brown Field -
Milwaukee (8-7-2, 2-3-2 Horizon)
This Week in Crusader Soccer: For the second time in 72 hours, the Valparaiso men’s soccer team will face off against Milwaukee, as the two squads meet Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Brown Field in the Horizon League Championship quarterfinals. The Crusaders enter the tournament as the fourth seed, while the Panthers are the fifth seed.
Previously: The Crusaders closed out the 2012 regular season on Saturday evening in Milwaukee, Wis., falling to Milwaukee by a 2-1 final. Todd Vervynckt pulled back a goal on a penalty kick in the 74th minute for Valpo, but goals by the Panthers in the 38th and 53rd minutes were too much for the Crusaders to overcome.
The Road Ahead: The 2012 Horizon League Championship continues at Detroit on Friday with a pair of semifinals. With a win on Tuesday, Valpo would face either top-seeded Detroit or second-seeded Cleveland State, depending on the other quarterfinal’s result. The championship match is slated for Sunday afternoon.
Following the Crusaders: Tuesday night’s match will have live video available through the Horizon League Network. The link for the HLN video feed of the fixture against the Panthers, as well as live stats, will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Mike Avery: Mike Avery returns for his sixth season at the helm of the Crusader men’s soccer program after being named Horizon League Coach of the Year and guiding the team to the league regular season championship in 2011. Avery, who owns 43 victories as Crusader head coach, has led Valpo to three of the four winningest seasons in program history over the last three years. Under his watch, 21 players have earned All-League accolades, including three Goalkeeper of the Year honorees and one Defensive Player of the Year.
Series Notes: Valpo is 3-3-2 all-time against Milwaukee, with seven of those eight meetings coming since the Crusaders joined the Horizon League. Goals from Kevin Miller and Charles Barden lifted Valpo to a 2-0 win over the Panthers in their last meeting at Brown Field, which came on Oct. 22, 2011. The two sides previously met in the league tournament at Brown Field in 2009, a 4-0 Valpo victory.
Scouting the Opposition: Milwaukee owns a 8-7-2 record on the season after defeating the Crusaders on Saturday night. The Panthers have scored 23 goals on the year, led offensively by sophomore Laurie Bell (8g, 5a). In goal, John Shakon has seen the majority of the minutes and owns a 1.35 GAA.
Crusaders in the Tournament: Valpo is attempting to reverse its run of results within the Horizon League Championship, as since joining the league, the Crusaders are just 1-3-1 in tournament play. Most recently, Valpo earned home field advantage last season by winning the regular season championship, but played to a scoreless draw with Loyola in the semifinal meetings and failed to advance on penalties.
League Awards: Kyle Zobeck repeated as the Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year and as a member of the First Team All-League, highlighting four Crusaders who received league postseason honors on Monday. Jon Smith and Eric Nieto both were named to the Second Team All-League, while Jordan Aidoud earned a spot on the All-Newcomer team. In addition, College Sports Madness released its pair of All-League squads on Monday - Nieto earned First Team honors, while Aidoud, Smith and Zobeck all picked up Second Team accolades.
Senior CLASS Award: Goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck is one of 10 finalists nationwide for the Senior CLASS award, an annual award presented to a senior who has notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. Fans can vote for Zobeck through November 19 by visiting http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote.
Academic Accolade: Junior Todd Vervynckt was named to the Capital One Academic All-District V team on Thursday, maknig him eligible for Academic All-American honors. Vervynckt owns three goals, as well as two assists, on the season, while in the classroom, he carries a 3.97 cumulative GPA as a mechanical engineering major.
I Said Aidoud: Freshman Jordan Aidoud found the back of the net twice in the win over IPFW last Tuesday, the second multi-goal game of the season by the Crusaders. Aidoud now leads Valpo with four goals, the most by a Crusader freshman since current assistant coach Steve Shively scored four goals in 2006. Aidoud also owns three assists on the season, tied with fellow Frenchman Yannick Iwunze for team-high honors.
Wake Me Up When September Ends: Valpo was 1-0-1 in the month of August, but when the calendar flipped to September, the Crusaders were unable to win a match, going 0-6-1 during September. But since October 1, the results have fallen the Crusaders’ way, as Valpo matched its program record with a six-match unbeaten streak to start the month. While the streak was snapped with a late loss at Michigan, the Crusaders ended the month on a high note with a win at IPFW, ending October 4-1-3.
Strong Defense: Under Avery’s direction, last year’s Crusader squad continued to be strong in the back, surrendering just 14 goals on the season to set a new program single-season record for fewest goals allowed. This year’s team has been nearly as proficient, giving up just 16 goals through the first 18 games. Valpo has given up more than one goal just twice, in 2-1 losses at #9 UC Santa Barbara and at Milwaukee, something that has happened just nine times since the start of the 2010 campaign. In addition, since the beginning of that season, the Crusaders have surrendered more than two goals just once. As a team, Valpo ranks 28th nationally with a 0.84 GAA, while fifth-year senior goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck paces the Horizon League and sits 29th nationally with a 0.84 GAA of his own.
There’s Almost Always Drama: Close games have again been the norm for the Crusader men’s soccer team this season. Valpo’s 3-1 win at IPFW last Tuesday was just its third game decided by multiple goals this season, as now 15 of 18 games this year have been ties or one-goal decisions. In fact, Valpo has now had 40 of 47 Horizon League contests end as one-goal decisions or draws since joining the HL prior to the 2007 campaign.