It was only appropriate that, on a night when the Valpo soccer program honored its five seniors on Senior Night at Brown Field, the Beacons found the back of the net five times in a 5-0 win over Cornell College Saturday. The win, Valpo’s sixth in a row, featured the first career goals for seniors Alexis Gaffney (Broomfield, Colo./Legacy) and Morgen Metzger (Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc).
How It Happened
- Gaffney scored what proved to be the match-winner in the 12th Junior Elizabeth Park (Davenport, Iowa/Bettendorf) got to the end line down the right side and sent a low cross into the box. The cross took a deflection off a Cornell defender into the path of Gaffney, who drove a right-footed shot from 20 yards out into the lower-left corner of the goal.
- Gaffney doubled the lead in the 24th minute with some help from her fellow seniors. Building play through the midfield, Metzger knocked a pass out wide to senior Peyton Flynn (Poplar Grove, Ill./Belvidere North). Flynn put a long ball over the Cornell back line towards a sprinting Gaffney. The Rams’ keeper came out to try to claim the ball, but Gaffney beat the keeper to it, tipped it around her and finished into the open goal to make it 2-0.
- Junior Cierra Welch (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) entered the match in the 60th minute, coming on after the ball went out for a corner, and scored before the minute was up. Freshman Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) stepped up to take the corner and sent it towards the far post, where Welch just out-jumped everyone to head it home for Valpo’s third of the night.
- Less than four minutes later, the Beacons found their fourth goal of the evening. Joiner was tasked with a free kick near the right sideline, about 20 yards from goal, and put it into the box along the ground. Welch gave it a slight defection which placed it perfectly for freshman Claire Bonnici (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) right in the center of the box, eight yards out. Bonnici one-timed it with her left foot inside the left post for the goal.
- Fittingly, Senior Night was capped with a goal from a senior in the 90th A clearance attempt by Cornell fell at the feet of Metzger, who took a lofted shot from just inside 20 yards that dropped perfectly into the upper-right corner to the delight of a jubilant Valpo side.
Inside the Match
- Prior to the match, Valpo honored the five members of its senior class – Flynn, Gaffney, Metzger, Katie Hansen (Lombard, Ill./Glenbard East [Montana]) and Jenna Schluter (Novi, Mich./Mercy). The four healthy seniors all started and finished the game for the Beacons, with Hansen going all 90 minutes at center back.
- As noted in the lede, Gaffney and Metzger both picked up their first career goals Saturday. Gaffney’s multi-goal game was Valpo’s first since Kelsie James scored twice at Duquesne earlier this season.
- In fact, Gaffney entered Saturday’s match without a collegiate point, as did Flynn, who earned her first collegiate assist in her 37th appearance in the Valpo uniform.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Bonnici made it a collegiate debut to remember, as the freshman came on at halftime for her first career appearance and promptly scored her first goal less than 20 minutes later.
- Joiner and Park joined Flynn in registering their respective first career assists in the win. Joiner finished with two helpers, Valpo’s first multi-assist game by a player since Allie Anderson assisted on two goals in the Beacons’ win over St. Bonaventure earlier this year.
- As a team, Valpo recorded six assists on its five goals Saturday, tied for the second-most assists in a single match in program history.
- It was the second time this season Valpo has had three players score their respective first career goals in the same match, as Welch, Cassidy Eckstein and Dana Fish all did so last month at Chicago State. Prior to this year, Valpo had never had three players each score their first career goal in the same fixture.
- 11 different players have found the back of the net this year for the Beacons, the third-most in a season in program history. The 2006 side had 14 different goal scorers, while the 2004 team had 13.
- The Beacons now count nine different first-time goal scorers among their 11 goal scorers this season, while nine of the 13 players who have recorded assists entered the season without a collegiate assist.
- Junior Georgia Henkel (Houston, Texas/Stratford) kept the clean sheet in goal, her second in as many starts this season. She now has four career shutouts.
- 23 different players saw action for Valpo on Saturday, with only one — Hansen — going more than 68 minutes.
- Valpo has now won six consecutive matches dating back to Sept. 12, just the fifth winning streak of six or more matches in program history.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I thought the sport of soccer won tonight. It brought two schools together for what was an awesome experience all around, and it was a great ambassadorship for the game of soccer by all the players involved.”
“I’m thankful that Cornell and Coach Fajardo were willing to come out and make the trip. I feel like it was a beneficial game for both teams — it will help Cornell prepare for their conference schedule, and it gave us a run with an opponent during our bye in the MVC schedule. We had the opportunity to see a lot of our players on the park, and it was exciting to see a lot of firsts for some of our players.”
“I’m so excited for our seniors to have the night that they did, the way that they impacted the game. More importantly, it was a great display of how they’ve grown over their time here, not just as players, but as people. It’s so rewarding to see how they’ve come along.”
“It was also exciting to see Claire have a very good performance in her debut this evening. She’s gone through growth here in her first season, and hopefully this is a springboard for her as she continues to develop.”
Valpo (8-4-1, 4-0-0 MVC) returns to Valley play for the final four matches of the regular season, starting with a Wednesday evening match at Drake. That fixture can be seen live on ESPN3.