MACOMB, Ill. - The Western Illinois men's soccer team is set to take on Horizon League foe Valparaiso this Sunday in a non-conference road contest at 1 p.m.
The Leathernecks are coming off a 2-1 victory over DePaul in which freshman Austin Gochneaur scored a pair of goals, and are in search of their second straight victory.
The Crusaders will enter the match with an 1-0-1 record, defeating St. Joseph's 6-1 after tying Michigan State, 0-0.
A LOOK AT THE CRUSADERS: Valparaiso is coming off a 6-1 victory over Division II opponent St. Joseph’s College...The Crusaders also tied Michigan State, 0-0, in their season opener...Andy Lynn tallied five points on two goals and an assist in the last game...Kyle Zobeck shut out Michigan State for 110 minutes, stopping all three shots on goal by the Spartans...The Crusaders have outshot their opponents, 34-8...Valparaiso finished 2011 with a 9-6-5 record, including a regular season-best 5-1-2 in the Horizon League...In the Horizon League preseason poll, the Crusaders received three first-place votes but were picked to finish third, one point behind Cleveland State and two points behind Wright State...Valparaiso will also take on Summit League foes IUPUI and Fort Wayne later in the season.
SERIES HISTORY: Western Illinois holds a 17-6-1 record all-time against the former Summit League member...The Leathernecks most recently topped the Crusaders on Oct. 2, 2011, 1-0...Diego Gonzalez scored in the closing minutes of the first half, with Ebenezer Mengistu and Matt Carlson...Current assistant coach Andy Ryan made a season-high 11 saves in net, not allowing a goal in the shutout victory.
LAST TIME OUT: The Leathernecks picked up their first victory of the season, a hard-fought 2-1 win over DePaul...Freshman Austin Gochneaur burst onto the scene with his first two collegiate goals, including one just 65 seconds into the season, on an assist from Mario Alvarez...Western Illinois was outshot 21-6, and took just one corner kick compared to 11 for DePaul...Yves Dietrich made five saves in net, allowing just one goal.
IT’S NOT HOW YOU START...: Western Illinois men’s soccer teams that struggled early on in the season have gone on to excel later in the season...Last year, the team started 0-2-1, but went 13-5 the rest of the way en route to a Summit League title...The 2009 conference championship team began the season 0-4 before turning things around.
SHOTS FOR DAYS: After finishing second on the squad with 42 shots last year, Nathan Bruinsma leads the squad with nine shots this season, an average of three per game.
ATOP THE SUMMIT: Western Illinois players rank among the top of the Summit League’s statistical leaders...Yves Dietrich has a conference-best 15 saves, three more than the next-closest...Bruinsma’s nine shots are also most in the league...Gochneaur’s two goals tie him for most in the league.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: With Quinlin Johnson transferring to Western and Maclean Johnson enrolling as a freshman, all four of head coach Dr. Eric Johnson’s sons have now played under him as a Leatherneck. His second son, Kooten, was a team captain last season and graduated in 2012.
PRESEASON KUDOS: The Fighting Leathernecks, coming off a Summit League title, have received high expectations coming into the 2012 season. Receiving five first-place votes, Western Illinois was predicted to finish first in the Summit League by conference head coaches...Additionally, College Sports Madness named Dr. Eric Johnson the Preseason Coach of the Year and Charlie Bales the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Bales was joined on the Preseason First Team All-League list by seniors Husref Jupic and Nathan Bruinsma, while Diego Gonzalez was a Second Team honoree...TopDrawerSoccer.com projected Western Illinois as the Summit League champs in its preseason Tournament 48 rankings.