Staying Organized in the Back
In 2012, the Crusaders set the standard in the Horizon League and ranked19th in the country in team goals against. Conceding only 17 goals in 20 games, the team achieved a GAA of just .81. Valpo will look to maintain a similar type of defensive dominance in 2013.
The Crusaders will be without two-time league goalkeeper of the year and current MLS goalkeeper (FC Dallas), Kyle Zobeck in 2013; however, the team is excited about the current talent at the position. Redshirt Junior, Tom Serratore and Freshman Nico Campbell will compete for time as the starting goalkeeper.
The Crusaders return a mixture of youth and experience in the back. Mitch Albrecht and Yannick Iwunze will be called upon to anchor a youthful Crusader back line. Albrecht earned starting assignments in 16 of 18 games in 2012, while Iwunze started 8 of the 15 games he appeared in a season ago. Joining Albrecht and Iwunze in the back are newcomers Adrian Graham, Omar Lawrence, and transfer, Jack McIver. Zev Taublieb, an experienced holding midfielder, will help to relieve pressure in the back and keep this group organized.
With depth at nearly every position defensively, it will be tough for opposing teams to break down the Crusader back line.
In 2013, the Crusader men will look to be more decisive in front of goal. Last season, the team was able to create plenty of chances in front of goal, averaging nearly 6 shots on goal per game. However, Valpo was only able to finish 1 of those 6 chances per game, scoring 20 goals in 20 games.
Much to the tune of last season, the Crusaders should have plenty of opportunities to find the net in 2013. The team returns a handful of players with a knack for creating chances in front of goal. Jordan Aidoud, Todd Vervynckt, and Yannick Iwunze were responsible for assisting on three goals apiece last season. Eric Nieto will also be looked upon to create chances, having tallied 2 assists in 2012.
Added creativity and technical ability in the midfield will also boost the Crusader attack and allow for more chances to be created in front of goal. Transfers, Jacob Gandarilla and Julio Velasquez will join veterans, Jesse Ortiz and Charles Barden in the midfield and will be looked upon to provide a spark in the attacking third.
With the return of several of the team's leading goal scorers from a season ago, the 2013 season is primed for an increase in goal scoring. Aidoud returns after having led the team in goals scored last season; finding the back of the net on 4 different occasions. Nick Suker also joins Vervynckt, Nieto, and Barden as returning players who scored at least 2 goals last season for the Crusaders.
On the Road, Again
Home matches for the Crusaders will be few and far in between in 2013. The team is set to play 9 non-league and 4 league games away from Brown Field in what appears to be one of the toughest schedules the team has faced under seventh year Head Coach, Mike Avery. Valpo will travel to both Tulsa and Michigan to take on pre-season favorites, the Golden Hurricane and the Wolverines ranked #13 and #15 in the country, respectively. Games at Kentucky and Dayton also highlight the Crusader's non-league schedule.
In addition to a daunting non-league schedule, the Crusader men will once again be tasked with challenging Horizon League play. Valpo begins its quest for the Horizon League Title early in the 2013 season, as the Crusaders travel to Rochester, MI to take on the Horizon League newcomer, the Oakland Grizzlies, in just the third contest of the season. A former Summit League favorite, the addition of the Grizzlies will further increase the difficulty of an already challenging league.
This year's Horizon League schedule also sees Valpo visiting Wright State, Green Bay, and preseason favorite, Cleveland State. Fans will have three opportunities to take in a Crusader league game at Brown Field: Milwaukee (Oct. 12), UIC (Oct. 26), and Detroit (Nov. 9) will make the trip to Brown Field to take on the Crusaders.
Home games for the Crusader men will be a rarity this season. Stay connected with Valpo men’s soccer by following the team on Twitter - @VUMSO. Insight from coaches, photos, and game promotions will be presented throughout the season.