A one-goal deficit in the second half proved to be no problem for the Valpo soccer team Sunday afternoon in Moon Township, Pa., as a pair of Beacons — junior Abbey Hillman (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central [Loyola]) and freshman Abby White (Commerce Township, Mich./Walled Lake Central) — scored their respective first collegiate goals to propel Valpo to the 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Robert Morris.
How It Happened
- The teams played to a scoreless first half — an opening 45 minutes which was interrupted by a lightning delay in the sixth minute which lasted two-thirds of an hour.
- Robert Morris took the lead in the 50th minute, as Haleigh Finale took a pass slotted between Valpo’s center backs and finished from 12 yards out inside the right post.
- The Beacons found the equalizer in the 61st minute thanks to strong individual play from Hillman. The junior won possession off an errant pass about 30 yards from goal, dribbled under pressure centrally to the top of the box and unleashed a perfectly-struck shot along the ground with her right foot inside the left-hand post to tie the match at 1-1.
- A number of players had a hand in the match-winner which came in the 74th Junior Kiley Dugan (Irwin, Pa./Penn-Trafford) won the ball back for Valpo with pressure in the attacking third, and senior Peyton Flynn (Poplar Grove, Ill./Belvidere North) sent a ball into the box which ran loose. Sophomore Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) battled her marker and eventually worked her way to the ball at the end line right of the goal, where she crossed along the ground to White. The rookie, streaking forward from her left back position, drilled it home from close range into the top netting to make it 2-1 Valpo.
- Valpo continued to be dangerous with the lead, with multiple chances in the late stages, including one which hit the woodwork. Meanwhile, sophomore Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made a trio of stops in goal to preserve the victory.
Inside the Match
- Valpo closed its sole multi-match road trip of the season with a 1-0-1 record after the draw with Duquesne Friday night.
- Sunday marked the first time that two Valpo players scored their first collegiate goal in the same match since Dugan and Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) each scored their respective first goal against Wright State on Sept. 1, 2019.
- Hillman’s goal came in her seventh collegiate match — three appearances at Loyola and four so far this year in the Brown and Gold — and White found the back of the net in her fourth collegiate match.
- Sunday’s victory was the first for Valpo in which it rallied from being down a goal to earn the victory since coming from behind for a 2-1 win at Green Bay in the 2018 season opener.
- James registered an assist on the match-winning goal, her third career assist. She has now been involved with four of Valpo’s five goals this year.
- For the first time in this season’s four matches, the Beacons adjusted their starting XI, as Hillman and sophomore Cassidy Eckstein (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) were part of the initial unit for the first time this year.
- Norfolk again went the full 90 minutes at center back, and with that, she surpassed Tracy Roos (2008-11) for the longest known streak of consecutive minutes played by a Valpo field player. Norfolk has now played 3,418 straight minutes in the back since stepping on campus.
- The Beacons were able to earn the victory Sunday despite having played 110 minutes less than 48 hours earlier and with RMU having an extra day of rest from its last match.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I’m pleased we were able to get out with a result today. This was our first Friday/Sunday pair of games in two years, and the Sunday games can often be quite difficult physically, especially after we played 110 minutes Friday.”
“Our team's resiliency was quite good again today. To go down a goal early in the second half, and then come back and find an equalizer and then in turn find the game-winner shows the quality of our team.”
"I felt our team really performed well in that environment today. Robert Morris posed a different challenge than we've seen so far, so we had to adjust a bit. I was happy to see our players implement the adjustments we made and to see them pay off over the course of the match.”
“It was great milestones for both Abbey Hillman and Abby White to score their first collegiate goals today, especially with both being key to coming out with the win. I was very proud of the effort from both of them today, and it was great to see them be rewarded on the scoresheet.”
“Overall, I’m pleased with our two results on a long road trip. We will continue to work and move forward as a group and prepare for two home matches next week.”
Valpo (1-2-1) comes home to Brown Field for three consecutive matches, starting on Friday night as the Beacons host Northern Illinois at 7:30 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on the Valley on ESPN.