By: Tommy Mantice
In the summer, ValpoAthletics.com came out with the Crusader Challenge, an opportunity for students attend games in exchange for free tuition. However, the University did not expect two game winning goals in overtime or game tying goals within 30 seconds of the end of regulation. So far, the Crusaders have given their fans heart attacks then elation and that trend certainly continued on Monday as the Crusaders tied the Dayton Flyers by a score of 2-2.
Goals from Nick Suker and Ramone Howell kept the Crusaders from suffering their second loss this season. The Crusaders are now 4-1-3 in non-conference play.
Ramone Howell had his first collegiate goal and his first goal for the Crusaders in the first half. The Flyers came back with two unanswered goals in the second half. The first came from Malk Schoonderwoerd in the 72nd minute and the second came Lalas Abubakar ten minutes later.
This was not familiar territory for the Crusaders. Although they have mustered up comeback from one goal before, they had never done it with less than ten minutes to go. This season is different.
Suker was able to head the ball in off a free kick from Jordan Aidoud with less than 30 seconds to go.
“Well, this is the last chance, I have to take advantage.” Said Suker. “I was lucky to get a tiny piece of it and guide it towards goal. This is the biggest team comeback that I have ever been apart of. It felt great to be the guy who put it in, but without my teammates, I wouldn’t have had the chance to do it.”
Suker knows he had been struggling to score and although the goal came nine games in. End of the day, the Crusaders tie and Suker gains confidence.
“It has been a long time since I have score, it feels like the monkey has fallen off my back. I can’t wait to score more goals.” Said Suker.
This game against Dayton comes after the first conference win against Belmont. Although many thought of this game as a trap for the Crusaders, Nick Suker and the Crusaders were mentally and physically prepared.
“It is easy to get up for any game, especially for me. I only have a few more games as a Crusader left. We were ready for them, we figured it out in the end.” Said Suker.
The preparation has been on point for the Crusaders and is a major reason why they have been so successful in tight games, but how often can this team?
“We were really tired, but we kept pushing and kept fighting.” Said Jordan Aidoud. “We are really fit team. We have a huge advantage, because we can go deep into games without being tired. We know we are a small school, but we want to beat these big teams. We have this mentality going for us.”