Valparaiso (4-6-3, 1-2-1 MVC)
Wednesday, Oct. 17 - Loyola (6-6-1, 3-1-0 MVC) - 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20 - at UNI (7-6-2, 2-2-0 MVC) - noon
This Week in Valpo Soccer: Battles for positioning in the Missouri Valley Conference take center stage this week for the Valparaiso University women’s soccer team, as just three fixtures remain in the regular season. Valpo hosts Loyola on Brown Field Wednesday night before playing at UNI in its final road game of the regular season on Saturday afternoon.
Previously: Valpo and Missouri State played to a 1-1 draw on Brown Field Saturday night, with Ava Porlier accounting for Valpo’s goal. The tie extended Valpo’s unbeaten streak to three consecutive matches.
Looking Ahead: The regular season concludes next Thursday afternoon, Oct. 25, on Brown Field as Valpo hosts Indiana State.
Following the Brown and Gold: Both of this week’s matches will be broadcast through The Valley on ESPN, with Wednesday’s match available on ESPN+ and Saturday’s match on ESPN3. Live stats will be available for both matches as well, with links for all the live coverage available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, John Marovich holds an 95-78-30 (.542) record both overall and with Valpo in his 11th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. Just the third head coach in program history, Marovich holds Valpo’s all-time records for victories and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Loyola - Valpo trails the all-time series with the Ramblers 16-9-1. The most common opponent in program history, Valpo and Loyola have met at least once every season since the start of the Valpo program in 1993, except for 2013. Last year, the two teams split a pair of matches in Chicago, as Valpo won the regular season matchup 2-1 before the Ramblers returned the favor by the same score in the MVC Tournament.
UNI - Valpo holds a 3-2-0 advantage in the all-time series with the Panthers. Last season, the two sides met for the first time in a decade, with UNI pulling out a 2-1 win in extra time on Brown Field.
Valpo Picked Sixth in Preseason Poll: Valpo was picked to finish in sixth place in the MVC preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s head coaches. Valpo totaled 24 points in the preseason polling. Loyola picked up five first-place votes en route to topping the poll, while Missouri State (two first-place votes) and UNI (one first-place vote) were tabbed second and third, respectively.
Looking Back at 2017: Valpo is coming off of a 9-10-0 record in 2017 and posted a 3-4-0 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play, good for a tie for fifth place. Cory Griffith was a First Team All-MVC selection and earned Third Team All-Region honors after matching Valpo’s single-season record with 11 goals scored. Five Valpo players in all received postseason recognition from the MVC, as Sydney Griffin, Kelsey Jahn and Grace Rogers were Honorable Mention All-Conference and Keegan Maris earned a spot on the conference’s All-Freshman Team.
A Look at the Standings: With just three matches remaining in the regular season, each match has the ability to flip the conference table upside-down. Valpo enters the week in seventh place in the standings, outside of the top-six position necessary to make the conference tournament, but with four points, the side sits just three points out of second position at the moment.
Recent Run of Results: Following Saturday’s draw, Valpo has earned results in each of its last three matches (1-0-2), its longest run of results since going 2-0-2 over a four-match stretch in September of 2015. Valpo’s win over Illinois State and draw with Missouri State also marked the program’s first time earning results in consecutive conference matches as a member of the MVC.
Kez Says No: Sophomore goalkeeper Kezia Gesell was up to the task in last Monday’s win over Illinois State, saving a career-best 12 shots in the shutout of the Redbirds. The 12 saves was the most by a Valpo goalkeeper since Oct. 14, 2012. Gesell followed by making six saves in Valpo’s draw against Missouri State on Saturday. She has now allowed one goal or fewer in seven of her eight starts this year and owns a GAA of 0.96, good for second among MVC goalkeepers. For her efforts, Gesell was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 15, the second weekly award of her career.
Oliver Steps Up: Senior Caitlyn Oliver entered last week’s pair of matches for Valpo with just one assist to her name in her first 48 appearances in the Valpo uniform. But the senior stepped up in a big way, contributing to two of Valpo’s three goals as it went 1-0-1 on the week. Oliver’s first career goal, while it counted two points towards her ledger, resulted in a key three points for Valpo, as she found the back of the net for the match-winner at Illinois State last Monday. The senior then registered the primary assist as Valpo earned a 1-1 draw with Missouri State.
Multiple Match-Winners: Senior Ava Porlier ranks second on the team with three goals this year, and all three of them have been key tallies. Porlier tallied the match-winning goals in Valpo’s wins over Green Bay and IUPUI - both of which came in the final 10 minutes of regulation. Then, last time out, she scored Valpo’s lone goal in its 1-1 draw with Missouri State.
The Record-Setting Performance: Senior Cory Griffith broke Valpo’s single-match record by scoring an NCAA D-I season-high four goals in the win over Robert Morris, carrying Valpo to a 4-2 victory. She scored all four of her goals in a 28-minute stretch spanning the two halves, netting a first-half perfect hat trick before closing out her scoring with a 48th-minute goal. Griffith, who is the only player in Valpo history with multiple hat tricks during her career and also broke the program’s single-match record for points, now owns Valpo’s career match-winning goals record with 11.
Bringing in the Honors: With her record-setting performance against Robert Morris came a pair of accolades for Griffith. She was named the MVC Offensive Player of the Week - her first weekly award from a league office since being named Horizon League Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 31, 2016. Griffith was also named to the Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week, the first Valpo player to be represented on the 11-player weekly squad since the website’s inception.
Iron Woman: It’s getting to be ho hum, as once again last time out, junior Ali Quillen played the full 110 minutes in Valpo’s draw with Missouri State. Quillen has now played 1,238 minutes this season and has not come off the park in any of Valpo’s 13 matches. Quillen has now gone the distance in 47 of 51 career matches and is currently on a streak of 1,875 consecutive minutes played - nearing her streak of 2,175 consecutive minutes which spanned her freshman and sophomore seasons (Aug. 28, 2016 at Loyola-Sept. 15, 2017 at Western Michigan).
It’s getting to be ho hum, as once again last time out, junior Ali Quillen played the full 110 minutes in Valpo’s draw with Missouri State. Quillen has now played 1,238 minutes this season and has not come off the park in any of Valpo’s 13 matches. Quillen has now gone the distance in 47 of 51 career matches and is currently on a streak of 1,875 consecutive minutes played - nearing her streak of 2,175 consecutive matches which spanned her freshman and sophomore seasons (Aug. 28, 2016 at Loyola-Sept. 15, 2017 at Western Michigan).