Facing off against an Indiana squad which has won eight national championships and enters the 2015 campaign ranked #14 in the nation, the Valparaiso men’s soccer team didn’t back down on Monday evening at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., defeating the Hoosiers 2-1 thanks to a pair of second-half goals.
“Indiana is such a great program, and are really one of the model programs in all of college soccer, so it was fun for us to match up with them,” said Crusader head coach Mike Avery. “They are very talented and I am confident they are going to have another tremendous season.”
The Hoosiers controlled possession for a majority of the first half, while the Crusaders were content to counter. Valpo had a few chances on the counter, but was unable to convert the opportunities into goals. Indiana would eventually get on the board first, as Ben Maurey found the back of the net off an assist from Tanner Thompson in the 36th minute.
With the score 1-0 Hoosiers at the half, the Crusaders came out in the second half looking to take control and level the score, and Valpo would do just that in the 64th minute. Newcomer Okama Thompson (Portmore, Jamaica/Spanish Town [Cincinnati State]) played a pass to sophomore Stain Sandbekkhaug (Ottawa, Ont./Frisco Liberty) on the left-hand side of the box. Sandbekkhaug got behind his defender and buried the ball into the right-hand side of the net, beating the IU goalkeeper inside the far post to make it a 1-1 game.
Not content to play for the draw, Valpo continued to pressure and it eventually paid off, as the match-winner came inside of the final six minutes. Junior Matthew Gweh (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview [High Point]) took control of a loose ball about 30 yards from goal. Gweh beat the first IU defender towards the middle of the field and dribbled through a couple others before unleashing a shot from just outside the 18-yard box, lacing it past the goalkeeper inside the left post for the match-winner.
“It's dangerous for anyone to read too much into an exhibition result, especially one this early,” cautioned Avery. “From our perspective, we had some good moments but also had plenty of other moments that showed us that there is still a lot of work to be done. We are excited to get back to training tomorrow and see if we can't build off of the work that was accomplished tonight.”
Valparaiso plays its second of two exhibition games next Monday evening, hosting Lewis at Brown Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff.