#4 Valparaiso (6-8-5, 2-2-3 Horizon)
Friday, November 9 - 10 a.m. CST - Detroit, Mich. -
vs. #2 Cleveland State (9-5-3, 4-1-2 Horizon)
Sunday, November 11 - 11 a.m. vs. #6 Loyola OR at #1 Detroit
This Week in Crusader Soccer: The Valparaiso men’s soccer team takes aim at the 2012 Horizon League Championship this weekend in Detroit, advancing to the semifinals following a 1-0 win on Tuesday over Milwaukee. The fourth-seeded Crusaders face second-seeded Cleveland State at 10 a.m. CST on Friday, with the winner facing either Loyola or Detroit for the championship on Sunday.
Previously: Senior Jaymie Bullard headed home a cross from close range just 22 seconds before halftime Tuesday evening, the only goal #4 Valparaiso would need as it downed #5 Milwaukee 1-0 in a Horizon League Championship quarterfinal at Brown Field. Bullard headed home a cross from Todd Vervynckt for the lone tally of the contest. Kyle Zobeck made two saves to earn the shutout for Valpo.
The Road Ahead: The winner of the 2012 Horizon League Championship earns the league’s automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Following the Crusaders: Both semifinals and Sunday’s championship will have live video streams through the Horizon League Network, with links available at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats.
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 44 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: Cleveland State - 3-10-2 all-time, 2-2-2 since joining the Horizon League - 0-0 (2ot) draw at Valpo earlier this season
Detroit - 9-8-0, 6-0-0 since joining the Horizon League - 2-0 win at Detroit earlier this season
Loyola - 3-13-5, 1-3-4 since joining the Horizon League - 0-0 (2ot) draw at Valpo earlier this season
Crusaders in the Tournament: Valpo’s win started to reverse its run of results within the Horizon League Championship, as since joining the league, the Crusaders are just 2-3-1 in tournament play. All three Crusader results in the tournament have come at home as well, and Valpo dropped its only previous neutral site game in the league tournament against Green Bay in the 2009 semifinal, 3-1.
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 last Thursday, making 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.
Bookending a Career: Senior Jaymie Bullard got his career off to a picture-perfect start back in 2009, finding a brace in his first career game in a 2-0 Valpo win over Eastern Illinois. Bullard was the Crusader responsible for the match-winner against the Panthers on Tuesday as well, his second goal of the season and his first match-winner.
I Said Aidoud: Freshman Jordan Aidoud found the back of the net twice in the win over IPFW, 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 and junior Todd Vervynckt 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 after October 1, the results fell 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, Valpo still owns a 5-2-3 mark since the end of the month of September.
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 19 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 26th nationally with a 0.80 GAA, while fifth-year senior goalkeeper Kyle Zobeck paces the Horizon League and sits 26th nationally with a 0.80 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 was just its third game decided by multiple goals this season, as now 16 of 19 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.