The fifth-seeded Valpo women’s soccer team battled toe-to-toe with fourth-seeded Drake in both teams’ Missouri Valley Conference Tournament opener Monday night in West Des Moines, Iowa, but in the end, a goal in the 16th minute proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs earned a 1-0 win to end Valpo’s season.
How It Happened
- Valpo took the opening kickoff and immediately pushed down the field, creating a dangerous cross towards the far post inside the opening 30 seconds that just missed connecting.
- The first shot on goal for either side resulted in the match’s lone goal, as Drake’s Cassie Rohan sent a high, looping shot into the upper-left corner of the goal from 20 yards out in the 16th minute to put the Bulldogs on top.
- After an opening 28 minutes which saw Valpo record no official shot attempts, the introduction of redshirt junior Tahelah Noel (Buffalo, N.Y./Christian Central Academy) and freshman Madison Tuma (Rochester, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary’s) paid immediate dividends, as Valpo continually pushed into the attacking third in the remainder of the first half.
- Tuma had a shot saved by Drake goalkeeper Kelsie Stone in the 36th minute, while freshman Cierra Welch (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) had an effort go wide in the 40th
- Perhaps Valpo’s best chance of the evening came just three minutes before halftime. Freshman Kiley Dugan (Irwin, Pa./Penn-Trafford) possessed well advancing down the right-hand side, making a couple turns and stops to keep her marker off balance and give her a chance to get to the end line. Once there, Dugan crossed towards the six-yard box, where Tuma ran onto the pass. Tuma’s point-blank shot was stopped by Stone, however, as Drake maintained the one-goal advantage.
- Valpo came out on the front foot in the second half as well, continuing to press forwarding and earning a pair of early corner kicks in the first four minutes. The second corner resulted in a good, free look at a header from senior Ali Quillen (Beavercreek, Ohio/Beavercreek), but her effort went high.
- It was a middle-third battle for much of the second half, as the two sides went from the 50th minute until the 80th minute with neither squad attempting a shot. Valpo dealt well with a push from the Bulldogs as the clock ticked under 10 minutes to play, including sweating a Drake shot off the post, and Quillen tracked back well to break up a potential Drake one-on-one at goal in the 84th
- Valpo had one final strong push, earning consecutive corner kick chances in the 86th minute and one more corner in the 88th minute, but was unable to find the equalizer.
Inside the Match
- Drake ended the match with an 8-5 advantage in shots, with both sides putting two on goal.
- Stone made two saves to earn the shutout for the Bulldogs, while freshman Georgia Henkel (Houston, Texas/Stratford) stopped one shot for the Brown and Gold.
- Six field players went the full 90 minutes on Monday night, highlighted by freshman Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) closing out a rookie campaign in which she played all 1,659 minutes.
- Three seniors were among the group of six who played all 90 minutes on Monday: Maria Broecker (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester), Adi Johnson (Rockford, Ill./Rockford Christian) and Ali Quillen (Beavercreek, Ohio/Beavercreek).
- Broecker went the entire match for the 12th time this year and 14th time in her career. Johnson went the distance for the 15th time in her career. Meanwhile, Quillen closed a career which saw her play all 90+ minutes on 65 occasions.
- Valpo is still in search of its first MVC Tournament win, as this was its second one-goal loss in tournament play since joining The Valley. Valpo previously lost at Loyola in first-round action in 2017, 2-1, and missed last year’s tournament. This year’s fifth seed was the team’s best finish in its three years in the conference.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“We came into tonight's match and acquitted ourselves quite well - our overall performance today was much better than the last time we played Drake.”
“We had a cross early on that was right there, just got on the wrong foot, and if we're able to put that away, it's a game-changer. Our timing was just a hair off tonight - our first touch wasn't quite clean enough, we were just a touch off with our runs - things that are difference makers in a postseason match.”
“When you look at the youth of our team, while the result is unfortunate, there's important lessons to take forward from games like this, just as we've learned and grown over the course of the season. This group found ways to compete in every Valley game, and were able to qualify for the conference tournament and put ourselves in a championship tournament experience. Now we have to grow from this - use the next 8-10 months to work on those areas we need to improve on to move forward into next year.”
“I'm tremendously proud of this group for the way they've battled and competed the entire season. This team came a long way from that first match back in August - they've developed and grown every single time out this year. I'm especially proud of our seniors, for giving the younger players good leadership and showing them how hard you have to compete this year. As we head into next year, it's time for the younger players to take up that mantle - it's their responsibility to fill those shoes, take that legacy and carry on the tradition.”