MILWAUKEE - Alex Brown scored at the 89:02 mark to help Valparaiso escape with a 1-0 victory over the Milwaukee men's soccer team Friday night at Engelmann Stadium.
The Panthers (2-2-0) outshot the Crusaders (2-3-0) by a final count of 18-to-11, but were unable to find the back of the net with any of their opportunities.
"It's frustrating, because I thought we had the better of the match from start to finish," head coach Kris Kelderman said. "I thought our play in general, our sharpness, was very good throughout. We created some pretty good chances."
The team had a first-half goal called off following an offsides call and also saw a header from Evan Conway go off the post in the second half, suffering the hard-luck defeat in its 2018 home opener.
"That one is on us," Kelderman said. "No disrespect to Valpo, because they made the one play they needed to win the game. They did it and we didn't. We created a good number of chances that we should have finished and we didn't."
Goalkeeper Freddy Lorenzen made six total saves on the night, including a pair of spectacular stops. Valpo decided the game on a last-minute corner kick, getting a pair of headers in front that eventually made its way into the net with just 58 seconds left in regulation.
"We were unlucky … we were unfortunate," Kelderman said. "But we had enough chances where we don't have an excuse – that is my opinion. The positive is, throughout the game, we played well. Our possession was good, our sharpness was good, and we created opportunities and that is 95 percent of the game. We just couldn't make the one play and, unfortunately, they did."
The Panthers had their opportunities and it started early.
Josh Kaye had an attempt stopped close-range in the fourth minute and Vuk Latinovich sent a header just wide of the right post in the 13th.
Jake Kelderman nearly had a goal as well, but sent his header off a corner kick just high of the cross bar in the 26th minute. MKE looked to have a goal at the 28:12 mark, with Suad Suljic finishing a combination of passes from Kaye and Conway nicely, only to see the flag up and the goal waved off.
Lorenzen made a brilliant stop on a volleyed rocket in the 31st, keeping the game at 0-0 headed into intermission.
In the second, Conway sent a header screaming inches wide in the 55th before hitting the post with another header at the 64:52 mark. Paolo Gratton and Cameron Williams set him up beautifully for the open shot in the box, only to see the ball go off the inside of the right post and bounce back to the Valpo keeper instead of into the net.
It was Conway again in the 69th, having his one-timer on a give-and-go from Williams saved nicely by Dan Rosenfeld.
Statistic totals for the match included that 18-to-11 advantage for MKE in shots, but Valpo managed to hold a 7-to-2 advantage in shots on goal. Both teams finished with six corner kicks.
Conway and Latinovich led the way with a game-high six shots apiece.
Up next, the Panthers welcome Penn to Engelmann Stadium Sunday night. Game time is set for 7 p.m.