By: Jill Wunrow
GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - With its ticket to the Horizon League Championship already punched, the Green Bay (9-6-1, 4-3-0 HL) men's soccer team looks to improve its current fourth-place standing as it hosts regular season champion Valparaiso (9-5-4, 5-0-2 HL) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Aldo Santaga Stadium. Prior to kick off, the team will honor its senior class of Stuart Grable (Neenah, Wis.), AJ Konchar (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Tony Patterson (Menomonee Falls, Wis.) and Tony Walls (Wauwatosa, Wis.).
The Phoenix enters Saturday's contest having won five of its last six games and currently owns at least the No. 4 seed in the Horizon League Championship. Green Bay's best winning streak of the season ended with a tough-fought 2-1 loss on the road at Wright State (9-6-2, 4-2-1 HL) Oct. 29.
Valparaiso has clinched the regular season championship and is the No. 1 seed for the Horizon League championship held Nov. 8-13. The Crusaders come to Aldo Santaga Stadium after having its five-consecutive shutout streak snapped by Butler (7-7-3, 2-3-2 HL) who battled Valpo to a 1-1 tie Wednesday. Prior to Butler, Valparaiso had shut out five consecutive opponents.
Saturday's contest is expected to be a defensive battle as two of Green Bay's three shut outs on the year have come on its home field against Butler and Wisconsin. The Crusaders enter the contest with a league-best 10 shutouts on the year.
HORIZON LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SCENARIOS: With Valparaiso clinching the No. 1 seed, the remaining seeds are still up for grabs for the Horizon League Championship.
Green Bay will clinch the No. 2 seed with a win over Valpo and a loss or tie by Cleveland State and Wright State who play Friday and Saturday respectively. In the event Green Bay ties Valpo in Saturday's game, the Phoenix will own the No. 3 seed if Wright State and Cleveland State also lose. Green Bay could also claim rights to the No. 3 seed with a win and a Wright State or Cleveland State loss or tie.
The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds receive a first round bye in the six-team tournament field while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host quarterfinal play Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Horizon League Standings as of Nov. 3 are as follows:
1. Valparaiso (9-5-4, 5-0-2 HL)
2. Wright State (9-6-2, 4-2-1 HL)
3. Cleveland State (8-8-1, 4-2-1 HL)
4. Green Bay (9-6-1, 4-3-0 HL)
5. Loyola (5-11-1, 3-5-0 HL)
6. Butler (7-7-3, 2-3-2 HL)
7. Milwaukee (6-9-2, 2-3-2 HL)
8. UIC (8-6-3, 2-4-1 HL)
9. Detroit (5-11-1, 1-5-1 HL)
NATIONAL RANKING SUMMARY: Despite its recent road loss, Green Bay still received votes in this week's NSCAA Great Lakes Regional Rankings after cracking last week's poll at No. 9 for the first time this season. Ironically, for the first time this season Valparaiso is ranked in the region at No. 9.
Green Bay's 72 saves on the year ranks 60th among 200 teams in saves per game (4.5) and its 9-6-1 record is 63rd in won-lost-tied percentage (0.594).
With its 10 shutouts, the Crusaders rank sixth in the nation with a 0.59 shut out percentage. Individually, goalie Kyle Zobeck ranks 17th among 150 ranked players in goals against average (0.673).
CLASS OF 2011: Before Saturday's game kicks off, Green Bay fans will honor its four seniors on the team. The class of Grable, Konchar, Patterson and Walls have combined for 31 goals, 12 game-winning goals and 28 assists in 74 contests while aiding Green Bay to its first Horizon League Tournament Championship in 2009, followed by the program's second appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
FOLLOW IT LIVE: Fans can follow's Saturday's game against Valparaiso live on GreenBayPhoenix.com. To track live stats of the contest, click here.
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