The weather conditions weren’t favorable, but the outcome sure was for the Valparaiso University men’s soccer team on Wednesday in Charleston, Ill. Valpo came away with a 2-1 road victory over host Eastern Illinois behind a late goal by Lucca Lacerda (Passos, Brazil / Mercy College), whose game-winner came in the 85th minute.
How It Happened
- The first shot on goal by either side occurred in the 31st minute when Valpo goalkeeper Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nuestra Semora del Pilar) was pressed into duty, stopping a Jake Andrews effort.
- Valpo placed two shots on goal in quick succession in the 35th minute, first by Michael Marchionna (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville Central) before a rebound try by Adan Garcia (Dallas, Texas / Episcopal School of Dallas). Both were saved by Panthers goalkeeper Jonathan Burke.
- Valpo outshot Eastern Illinois 6-3 during a scoreless first half, placing two shots on goal while permitting the Panthers just one.
- The first goal of the match came early in the second half when Luke Kurili received a pass on a counter and scored from 11 yards out on a Toby Andrews assist to make it 1-0 EIU.
- The lead was short-lived as the two teams scored in succession with Valpo tying the game 18 seconds after the Panther goal. Akeem Bradford (Kingston, Jamaica / Camperdown [Cincinnati State]) headed it into the net on an assistant by Lacerda.
- Miras picked up a save in the 61st minute and another one in the 67th minute to keep it a 1-1 tie. Eastern Illinois did not place another shot on goal for the game’s duration. Valpo tested Burke several times down the stretch, as he made saves in the 76th and 82nd minutes.
- Valpo grabbed the lead as Lacerda scored on a free kick from 10 yards out of the box in the 85th minute, providing a 2-1 edge that would hold up as Valpo picked up the road win.
Inside the Game
- Bradford notched his first goal of the season and moved his point total to three. This was the second goal of his Valpo career with the first coming in a 2-1 home win over Evansville on Oct. 7, 2017.
- The Lacerda assist was his first of the year, while the goal was his second. He also scored on Sept. 29 at Bowling Green.
- Lacerda joins Alex Brown and Michael Marchionna as Valpo players with a match-winner this season. He also joins select company as one of two Valpo players with multiple goals this year (Rafael Mentzingen).
- Lacerda becomes the first Valpo player with three points in a match this season, a feat most recently accomplished on Oct. 30, 2017, also against Eastern Illinois (Adan Garcia and Rafael Mentzingen).
- This marked the first time this season Valpo came from a goal down to register a victory. The team was previously 0-7-0 when opponents scored first.
- Valpo has now won six straight head-to-head meetings with Eastern Illinois (3-7-3) and hasn’t dropped a match to the Panthers since 2007.
- All three Valpo victories this season have come in heart-pounding fashion with the game-winning goal coming in the 85th minute or later.
- Valpo outshot Eastern Illinois 13-11 and owned a 6-4 edge in shots on goal. Valpo has not been outshot in the last five games, outshooting the opposition four times and tying in shots once.
- Miras finished with three saves, while Lacerda led his team with three shots and accounted for three of the six Valpo shots on goal.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“I want to thank the coaches and staff at Eastern Illinois for all their efforts to get the game in. There’s been a lot of rain in the area all day, including a pretty heavy downpour right before halftime, and the quick work to get the practice field up and running so we could finish the game safely is commendable and doesn’t go unnoticed by me or my players.”
“It was actually a pretty good game given the conditions, and I’m proud of the spirit we’ve shown. Ignoring outcomes and just keeping your head down and working through tough patches is not as easy to do as it sounds. My team has done that, and it feels as if they are now seeing the rebound. We have the capacity to be a dangerous team that can make a run at a league title, and the next four games will set that stage. We are excited to head into Bradley with a little momentum because we know they are a very good team and we will have to be at our best.”
Valpo (3-7-2) will return to Valley action on Saturday night with a visit to Shea Stadium in Peoria, Ill. to battle the Braves. A link to live stats is available for the match, which kicks off at 7 p.m. CT.