MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois men's soccer fell in its home-opener to Valparaiso at John MacKenzie Alumni Field by a 5-2 score on Sunday afternoon.
Valparaiso scored two goals in a span of less than 40 seconds, both in the ninth minute, to grab a 2-0 lead. Adrian Graham scored off a corner kick, with assists to Zev Taublieb and Yannick Iwunze.
37 seconds later, Nick Suker caught the Leatherneck defense off guard and scored on a breakaway off a WIU turnover.
Western Illinois controlled possession for much of the remaining first period, and finally got on the board less than two minutes into the second half.
Diego Gonzalez took a corner in the 47th minute and found Jupic all alone, whose shot from the right side of the box snuck just inside the left post.
The goal was Jupic's third of the year, while Gonzalez earned his second assist.
While the Leathernecks had the momentum at that time, a Western injury caused a 20-minute delay in the game. Just minutes later, Charles Barden scored in a one-on-one opportunity against WIU keeper Yves Dietrich. Taublieb picked up his second assist of the day on the play.
WIU cut the margin to 3-2 in the 68th minute, when Valparaiso's keeper turned it over and Tyler Chavez found in front of the net for his first goal of the year.
But the Crusaders responded with a pair of insurance goals, as Barden scored his second of the game in the 76th minute and Jordan Aidoud found the back of the net in the 87th minute to push the score to 5-2.
"We gave up five very soft goals. We did not react to the injury very well at all. We had four or five guys playing hard and the other four or five guys who weren't focusing," head coach Dr. Eric Johnson said. "It was really frustrating and I'll take the blame for not having them ready but we've gotten better every game until today. Maybe this will wake them up, because I know they aren't happy. It's going to be a good test this week to see if we can get back on track heading into our first league games."
This game marked the first time WIU scored at least two goals and lost since Nov. 5, 2011 at Oral Roberts, and just the second time the Leathernecks have conceded five goals since 2001.
Shots were equal at 12-12, with Valparaiso holding a slight advantage in shots on goal at 7-5.
Dietrich made two saves in the loss, while Valpo keeper Nico Campbell saved three shots to improve to 2-0.
The Leathernecks will now begin Summit League play, traveling to Omaha on Saturday at 4 p.m.
"We have a fresh start [with Summit League play starting Saturday] and it's going to be a mental test," Johnson added. "We're better than we were the first exhibition game and even though it didn't show at times, there were still moments it was pretty good [today]."