Valparaiso (3-7-2, 0-1-1 MVC)
at Bradley (5-3-3, 0-3-0)
Saturday, Oct. 13 – 7 p.m. CT
This Week in Valpo Soccer: A stretch of four straight Missouri Valley Conference games to close the regular season begins on Saturday night as Valpo pays Bradley a visit at Shea Stadium in Peoria. This match takes Valpo back to the site of the 2017 MVC Tournament to face a Braves side that was picked to finish fourth in the MVC Preseason Poll. Entering this weekend, Valpo’s only conference fixtures have come against the top two teams in the preseason projections.
Previously: Valpo’s most recent Valley game was slated to occur on Saturday, Oct. 6, but projected lightning pushed the match to Sunday evening. On a foggy and misty night at Brown Field, Valpo put together a strong effort to earn a scoreless draw with Loyola, a team picked second in the conference’s preseason poll. Goalkeeper Nacho Miras turned in his third shutout of the season and the fourth for the team. Valpo followed that with a 2-1 victory in a midweek match at Eastern Illinois on Wednesday. Lucca Lacerda and Akeem Bradford scored in the Valpo victory.
Following Valpo: Live stats of Saturday’s game will be available courtesy of Bradley Athletics. A link to the live stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.
Scouting the Opponent: Bradley’s 0-3 record in conference play may be deceiving because the Braves have played the only three teams picked to finish ahead of them thus far – Central Arkansas, Loyola and Missouri State. Bradley suffered one-goal losses to the Bears and Ramblers, including a 2-1 overtime setback against Loyola on Sept. 29. Bradley’s most recent game was its trip to Missouri State, a 1-0 defeat with an own goal accounting for the lone goal of the match. The Braves have been held scoreless in each of their last two games. Gerit Wintermeyer leads the team with five goals, while Younes Dayekh has registered a team-high four assists. Albert Reinwart has played nine games at goalkeeper and owns a 1.01 GAA and 3-3-3 record with 33 saves (.767 percent). Bradley is coached by veteran Jim DeRose, who has averaged nearly 11 wins per year and has guided the Braves to national rankings in eight seasons. DeRose has been at the helm since 1996.
Series Notes – Bradley: The Braves left Brown Field with a 1-0 victory to close out the 2017 regular season, the first meeting between the two teams since Valpo joined the Missouri Valley Conference. Jha’Lon Johnson scored in the 43rd minute with Austin Bell getting the assist. Bradley extended its edge to 8-5 in a series that had been on hold since 2008. Valpo beat a nationally-ranked Bradley side 1-0 in a 2008 neutral site match that took place in Evansville. This is Valpo’s first visit to Peoria since a 4-3 victory to open the 2001 season.
Flair for the Dramatic: The three Valpo victories this season have come with the match-winners taking place in the 85th minute or later. Lucca Lacerda scored in the 85th minute on Wednesday to provide a 2-1 victory against Illinois State, while match-winners against IUPUI and Milwaukee came in the 104th minute and 90th minute, respectively.
Three-Point Match: Valpo senior Lucca Lacerda became the first Valpo player this season with three points in a match on Wednesday at Eastern Illinois. He garnered his first assist in a Valpo uniform on an Akeem Bradford goal, then scored his second goal of the year and first match-winner. He joins Alex Brown and Michael Marchionna as Valpo players with game-winning goals this season. He also joins select company as one of two Valpo players with multiple goals this year (Rafael Mentzingen). Lacerda’s five points are tied with Mentzingen for the team lead.
Outshooting the Opposition: Valpo has not been outshot in the last five games, outshooting the opposition four times and tying in shots once during that stretch. For the season, Valpo has racked up 173 shots while allowing 138. Valpo ranks second in The Valley at 14.42 shots per game, led by conference-leader Rafael Mentzingen at 3.67. The Valpo senior captain ranks 22nd nationally in shots per game.
Coming From Behind: Valpo recorded its first come-from-behind victory of the season on Wednesday. The team was previously 0-7-0 when opponents scored first, but Valpo came from a goal down to register a win over Eastern Illinois.
Nil-Nil, Part 2: For the second time this season, Valpo played to a scoreless draw on Sunday, this time against Loyola. Valpo also played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer on Sept. 15 against Western Illinois. Before this season, Valpo hadn't played to a scoreless draw at Brown Field since Sept. 7, 2015 against Loyola. The last time Valpo had two 0-0 deadlocks at home in the same season was 2012.
Bonus Soccer: When Valpo and Loyola get together, odds are fans are going to get their money's worth. Sunday marked the seventh time in the last eight meetings that the two teams have played extra time. It was also Valpo's fourth scoreless draw with the Ramblers since 2012.
Excelling Academically: For the 16th straight year, the Valpo men’s soccer team has been awarded with the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award, as announced on Oct. 4 by the organization. Valpo has the third-longest streak in the nation. The United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award is bestowed upon soccer programs whose student-athletes have excelled in the classroom. The award is given annually, and in order to qualify a program must obtain a composite grade point average of 3.00 or better for the academic year.
Scholar-Athlete Spotlight: Valpo senior Rafael Mentzingen was recognized by the Missouri Valley Conference for his well-roundedness as part of the MVC Scholar-Athlete Spotlight presented by Enterprise Bank and Trust Company on Sept. 19. An economics major with a theology minor, Mentzingen boasts an impressive 3.87 grade point average. He has served the community through his work with the Detroit Fieldhouse, the #oneValpo diversity campaign, St. Baldrick’s, They Often Cry Outreach and the Valpo Parks Department. He is active on campus as a member of the Valpo Economics Club and the Valpo International Student Organization.
Stout Defense: Valpo has continued its tradition of stout defense this season, shutting out the opposition on four occasions. Two different goalkeepers have earned clean sheets, as Dan Rosenfeld blanked Milwaukee earlier in the season, while Nacho Miras led the way to a scoreless draw against Loyola for his third shutout of the year. Valpo already has three shutouts this season after having one a year ago. The Brown and Gold have allowed one goal or fewer in six of their first seven matches this season.
Nil Nil: The draw on Sept. 15 against Western Illinois was Valpo’s first stalemate since a 1-1 tie at Michigan on Aug. 28, 2017. Valpo hadn’t played to a scoreless draw since Nov. 7, 2016, a Horizon League Tournament match against Milwaukee that saw the Panthers advance on penalty kicks.
Brown with the Winner: Defender Alex Brown was part of a Valpo back line that limited Milwaukee to two shots on goal and helped shut out the Panthers on Sept. 7 in a 1-0 road win for Valpo. In addition, he scored the game-winning goal in the 90th minute, using a header goal for the only tally of the match by either side. Brown played 86 of the 90 minutes in the triumph and scored the second goal of his career, both match winners.
A Victorious Debut: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Dan Rosenfeld made his collegiate debut on Sept. 7 after three injury-plagued seasons. Rosenfeld made two saves in his first Valpo game, helping shut out a quality Milwaukee side in a 1-0 Valpo victory.
Making Moves: After having just one assist and no goals through his first two seasons, redshirt junior Michael Marchionna emerged as a key cog for Valpo in the early portion of the season. He was involved in the team’s first three goals, racking up one goal and two assists early in the season. Marchionna has hit 16 shots this season, second on the team and ninth in the league.
All-Tournament Team: A pair of Valpo student-athletes were recognized as part of the All-Tournament Team for their play at Wisconsin over Labor Day weekend. Rafael Mentzingen and Nacho Miras both added all-tournament accolades to their resumes. Miras permitted just one goal in each game against quality Big Ten competition, recording six saves for the tournament. Mentzingen racked up nine shots over the two matches, two on frame.
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 that match, 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.
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 85 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 was 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 is once again raising 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 was on Oct. 7 against Loyola at Brown Field.