Valparaiso (1-3, 0-0 MVC)
at Milwaukee (2-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Friday, Sept. 7 – 7 p.m. CT – Engelmann Stadium
This Week in Valpo Soccer: The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team will face a former league foe on Friday as the squad heads back to the state of Wisconsin to clash with the Milwaukee Panthers. After back-to-back battles with Big Ten competition, Valpo continues its challenging slate by playing a team that is coming off a Big Ten win over Ohio State.
Previously: Valpo surrendered second-half goals in each of its fixtures this past weekend, coming up on the wrong end of 1-0 finals against both Northwestern and Wisconsin. Valpo had the upper hand in shots against the Wildcats and had several near misses against the Badgers, including one shot that hit the post and one that was inches high. The team put together strong early-season showings in both challenging matches.
Following Valpo: Friday’s game will be carried on ESPN3, which can be accessed free of charge with a cable subscription. Links to live video and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Strength of Schedule: Valpo head coach Mike Avery has been known to compile a challenging nonconference schedule, and this year has certainly been no exception. Including two preseason exhibitions, Valpo has played six games and four have been against teams that have been nationally ranked at some point this season. Exhibition opponents Western Michigan (No. 14) and Notre Dame (No. 17) were both nationally ranked in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll. Marquette is up to 12th in the latest Top Drawer Soccer poll, while defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin was 12th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll. One of the two Valpo opponents that has not yet been ranked is Northwestern, another quality Big Ten side.
One-Goal Setbacks: During the weekend tournament against strong Big Ten competition, Valpo lost back-to-back games by the score of 1-0. This marks the first time since 2012 Valpo has dropped consecutive games by a 1-0 margin. Valpo kept both Northwestern and Wisconsin off the scoreboard in the first half and surrendered only a PK goal to the Badgers.
Badger State Stretch: Valpo will visit former league foe Milwaukee on Friday, the fourth straight game the team has played in the state of Wisconsin at four different venues - the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Madison College, Marquette and the University of Wisconsin. Valpo won't even play its fourth game in its home state until Oct. 1 and has as many nonconference games in Wisconsin as it does in Indiana this season.
Series Notes – Milwaukee: Valpo and Milwaukee shared conference affiliation during Valpo’s time in the Horizon League and have faced off 14 times over the years. Valpo is 5-4-5 all-time against Milwaukee. The most recent meeting ended in a scoreless draw in the Horizon League Tournament in 2016, but the Panthers advanced on PKs 5-3. The two teams also tied in the 2016 regular season meeting, 1-1 at Brown Field. Valpo is 2-0-2 over the last four meetings and hasn’t lost to the Panthers since Oct. 12, 2013, when No. 24 Milwaukee came to Valpo and won 1-0.
Scouting the Opponent: The Panthers picked up a 1-0 victory over Ohio State in a neutral site affair in Dayton, Ohio on Sunday. Goalkeeper Freddy Lorenzen registered his second shutout of the season, while Evan Conway scored on a header in the 31st minute for the only goal of the match. Milwaukee played an exhibition match against a Missouri Valley Conference team, beating Loyola 1-0. The Panthers are tough to top at home as head coach Kris Kelderman has a 29-14-10 home record in his six seasons. This will be the 2018 home opener for the Panthers.
Leading the League: Valpo has outshot the opponents in three of its four matches so far this year. Valpo owned a distinct 29-2 advantage in shots against IUPUI to start the season. That marked the most shots Valpo has created in a game since Oct. 14, 2015, when Valpo had 30 shots at New Mexico. Rafael Mentzingen accounted for 12 shots in the season opener against IUPUI, the most by a Valpo individual in over 15 years. Mentzingen has 24 shots for the season, 11 ahead of the individual who ranks second in The Valley. As a team, Valpo has a Valley-leading 69 shots. Mentzingen’s 6.0 shots per game rank second in the nation, while as a team Valpo is averaging 17.25 shots per game, 11th nationally.
Marchionna Making Moves: Michael Marchionna picked up a goal and an assist in the season's first week, already surpassing his point total from the first two years of his collegiate career. He notched one point over his first two seasons before totaling three in the first week of 2018. The highlight came on opening night at Brown Field, when Marchionna scored the golden goal in the 104th minute of a 1-0 season-opening win over IUPUI. The redshirt junior was involved in both Valpo goals of the first week of the season as he assisted on Danny Moreno's goal at Marquette.
Opening in Style: A 1-0 overtime victory over IUPUI allowed Valpo to start its season with a win for the first time since 2011. Valpo was also opening up at home for the first time since the 2011 campaign. Although it had gone winless in the last six season openers before Friday, Valpo had three draws - including one at Big Ten foe Michigan State - and two overtime defeats in addition to a one-goal loss at No. 14 Kentucky in 2015. Valpo has seen three straight season openers go to overtime and six of their last seven lid-lifters have required play beyond the regulation 90 minutes.
Keeping It Clean: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Nacho Miras picked up the second shutout of his career on Aug. 24 against IUPUI. The first also came against the Jaguars in a 1-0 win in Indianapolis on Sept. 26, 2017. Keeping the opponent off the scoreboard in the season opener is nothing new for Valpo, which had shutouts in six consecutive season openers from 2009-2014.
Dynamic Duo: Valpo placed two on the Preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference team – midfielder Rafael Mentzingen and forward Adan Garcia. The two players shared the team lead in goals last season with nine apiece, a number that ranks tied for seventh in program history for goals in a single season. Mentzingen and Garcia became the first pair of Valpo teammates to each score nine goals or more in a single season in program history. Both received significant postseason accolades as Mentzingen was named second-team all-region, first-team all-conference and MVC all-tournament team, while Garcia garnered third-team all-region and second-team all-conference.
A Glance at the Goalkeepers: Nacho Miras is a returning starter at goalkeeper, leading the way for a deep position that also includes Dan Rosenfeld and Alex Richt. Miras etched his name into the single-season program record book a year ago, posting a goals against average of 1.64 that ranked 10th in program history. He had seven saves in his first career start on Aug. 25 at Northwestern, the most saves by a Valpo keeper in a debut since 2001. His success continued with a career-high eight saves on Sept. 3 at DePaul, helping him earn MVP honors at the Chicago Classic, MVC Defensive Player of the Week recognition and a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.
Freshman Feat: Sophomore Jonas Engler made a good first impression as a rookie last year, becoming the first Valpo player with three goals as a freshman since 2014, when Stian Sandbekkhaug and Jordan James scored three apiece. Engler also had two assists to put his season point total at eight, the most by a Valpo freshman since Jordan Aidoud had 11 in 2012. Engler picked up All-MVC Honorable Mention a year ago.
Head Coach Mike Avery: In his 12th season at the helm of the Valpo men’s soccer program, Mike Avery owns a program-record 83 career victories. Under Avery's guidance, the team has been a stellar defensive side, as eight of the top nine defensive seasons in program history have come during his tenure. Avery has led the program to a new standard in his time as head coach, as a team that had enjoyed just one winning season in the 24 years prior to his arrival has finished above the .500 mark six times since his arrival. He has also seen numerous players go on to play professional soccer, including active pros Zev Taublieb, Kyle Zobeck, Stefan Antonijevic, Jordan Aidoud and Nico Campbell. Avery shattered the program record with his 77th career victory on Sept. 16 at Drake. He reached 77 victories in his 195th career match, while previous record holder Mis’ Mrak needed 288 matches to accumulate 76 wins.
Preseason Poll: Valpo picked fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll. Defending champion Missouri State is the favorite to win the league, followed by Loyola, Central Arkansas and Bradley.
A Look Back at 2017: The 2018 team is looking to build upon the school’s first season in the Missouri Valley Conference, which saw Valpo knock off a Top 25 opponent, place two individuals on the United Soccer Coaches all-region team, have three players receive all-conference recognition and help its head coach shatter the school record for career wins. Valpo finished the season with eight wins, tied for sixth in program history for wins in a single season. The team scored 30 goals, which also ranked tied for sixth in the program’s single-season record book. Valpo has scored 30+ goals in each of the last two seasons, just the second time in program history and the first since 1986 and 1987 that Valpo has racked up 30 goals or more in back-to-back seasons.
Road Warriors: Valpo had six road wins last season, the second consecutive year and the third time in program history the team has racked up six true road victories. The 2017 season is tied with 2016 and 1997 for the most true road wins in a single season in program history.
Flying Many Flags: Head coach Mike Avery and his staff have continued to pull from all over the world for players to comprise the men’s soccer squad. This year’s roster features players from 12 countries – Spain, Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia, France, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Germany, England, Italy and the United States.
#oneVALPO: The Valpo men’s soccer program will continue to promote its #oneVALPO campaign, which celebrates diversity, via social and digital media and at its games. For more information, go to the #oneVALPO Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/oneVALPO.
Working with TOCO: Valpo will once again raise funds for They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) this year. Throughout the 2018 season, the team is working to raise money and awareness for TOCO’s work through sport with at risk children in the Caribbean and United States. This year’s TOCO benefit game will be Oct. 6 against Loyola at Brown Field.