In an exciting, up-and-down battle which saw both teams have multiple quality chances Friday evening at Brown Field, it was a late goal from freshman Dana Fish (Sheboygan, Wis./Sheboygan) which was the difference maker, as the 83rd-minute header gave Valpo a 1-0 victory over Illinois State as the Beacons claimed three points in the MVC opener for both sides.
How It Happened
- The opening 45 minutes saw Illinois State out-shoot Valpo 9-4, but both sides put two shots on frame. Junior Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) had a strong effort with a header in the 37th minute, but it was saved by ISU goalkeeper Priya Gillan as the match went into halftime nil-nil.
- Valpo goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made a pair of strong saves on dangerous breaks in the second half to keep it a scoreless match. With the last Beacon defender back on her hip in the 67th minute, Allison Baker took a shot from the top of the box which Coryell handled.
- Then, in the 71st minute, Katherine Felton found herself one-on-one with Coryell on the right-hand side of the box. Felton aimed to the lower-right corner with a good strike, but Coryell’s dive allowed her to get enough of her hand on the ball to slow its momentum and keep it out of the back of the net.
- Valpo earned its seventh corner kick of the match in the 83rd minute, and this one, it made count. Sophomore Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) delivered a perfectly-hit ball with her left foot to the center of the box, a few yards from the goal line. Fish did the rest, leaping above everyone with a well-struck header which found the back of the net.
- Valpo successfully saw out the match from there, preventing the Redbirds from even registering a shot attempt over the final seven-plus minutes.
Inside the Match
- This is the first time Valpo has taken all three points from its conference opener since its first season as a full MVC member in 2017, when it went down to Missouri State and claimed a 1-0 win.
- After going 0-6-0 in its first six matchups in the series with Illinois State, Valpo has now won three of the last four meetings.
- Friday’s clean sheet was the program’s third in the last four matches.
- Fish netted a goal for the second straight match, as she also found an insurance tally this past Sunday at Chicago State.
- Fish is the first freshman to score in consecutive matches for the Beacons since…last week, as Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) netted goals against St. Bonaventure and Western Illinois. Prior to Joiner, no Valpo rookie had scored in back-to-back fixtures since 2014.
- Valpo’s four match-winning goals this year have come from four different players, three of whom are freshmen.
- James’ assist was her third of the year as she now has tallied 11 points.
- Coryell made seven saves in earning her first complete-game shutout of the season. With eight career clean sheets, she now sits alone in fifth place in Valpo history.
- Illinois State ended up out-shooting Valpo on the evening, 17-12, but both sides put seven shots on frame. The Beacons held a healthy 7-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I’m really pleased with the team tonight, because we were solving problems which matched what we worked on during the week in our game model. We made good decisions, battled, competed, progressed the ball well and were rewarded for our work.”
“I loved how we handled Illinois State’s press. We weren’t always successful, but I really liked the thought process about how we were trying to solve that problem during the game.”
“It’s a fantastic result, always great to start conference with three points, especially against a good team like Illinois State. So many good performances were a part of it tonight — Cierra had a good night, Dana obviously came in and impacted the game, Chase comes in at the end of the game and won a number of headballs to help us kill the game off.”
“Everybody played their role tonight, and that’s what good teams do. The effort and the battle and the competition and the grind is what is our standard — tonight, we brought that standard, and we used it to come away with three points.”
Valpo (4-4-1, 1-0-0 MVC) has a week until it steps into competition again, when it makes its first trip of Valley play to Terre Haute to face Indiana State next Friday at 6 p.m. CT.