The Valpo soccer team saw its 2021 season come to an end in heartbreaking fashion Friday evening in Chicago, Ill., as the second-seeded Beacons fell to sixth-seeded Evansville 2-1 in the MVC Tournament semifinals on a golden goal from the Purple Aces in the 104th minute.
How It Happened
- Evansville opened the scoring early on in the 7th minute, with Alex Eyler scoring off a rebound.
- It took Valpo less than seven minutes to find the equalizer. Sophomore Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) sent a corner kick into the box, where junior Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) nodded it down to the ground. Freshman Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) took a right-footed shot from the edge of the six and buried it in the right-hand side of the net to level the match.
- The match went into halftime tied at 1-1, with both sides recording five shot attempts in the opening 45.
- Valpo started to turn the balance of the match in its favor in the second half, out-shooting Evansville 10-3. Junior Cierra Welch (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) had a strong chance from the right-hand side of the box in the 64th minute which Evansville goalkeeper Michaela Till had to drive to her right to parry away one-handed.
- With the contest moving into the final 10 minutes of regulation, sophomore Lindsey DuSatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) had an effort from the top of the 18 which Till pushed up and over the crossbar.
- The final minute was ticking down when senior Morgen Metzger (Grand Blanc, Mich./Grand Blanc) unleashed a shot of her own that Till pushed over the bar. The ensuing corner kick was taken with just seconds remaining in regulation and nearly resulted in a timely winner, as Norfolk’s header ricocheted off the crossbar and over.
- The two sides combined for just one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes of extra time, but the lone shot of the second period of extra time resulted in the match-winner, as Emily Ormson scored for the Purple Aces to send them to the championship match.
Inside the Match
- Valpo fell on Friday despite out-shooting the Purple Aces, 18-10, and putting six shots on goal to Evansville’s five. It was just the Beacons’ second loss of the season when out-shooting their opponent.
- Valpo also attempted seven corner kicks to the Purple Aces’ one.
- Joiner’s goal was her third of the season. James picked up her team-best fourth assist of the year on the goal, while Norfolk’s helper was her second assist.
- Valpo goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made three saves in goal for the Beacons.
Inside the Season
- Valpo’s season ends with a 10-6-2 overall record, the 10th 10-win season in program history.
- Valpo finished in second in the MVC regular season standings, its top finish since joining the conference.
- The 10-6-2 mark represents a three-game improvement over last season’s 5-4-5 record.
- James finished the year with nine goals, tied for seventh-most in a single season in program history, and 22 points, tied for sixth in a season by a Valpo player.
- Norfolk, junior Kiley Dugan (Irwin, Pa./Penn-Trafford) and freshman Abby White (Commerce Township, Mich./Walled Lake Central) each started all 18 matches on the season. Dugan and Norfolk both made their 50th career start on Friday.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“It’s obviously a difficult way to see our season come to an end on that final play. But we certainly won’t let that define our team. We had a really successful year — our players played well, we enjoyed the way we were playing the game, and I thought they again showed today.”
“What you see in the growth in this team from the start of the season to today is what I’ll really wrap my arms around. Soccer can be a cruel sport sometimes, but we’ll put this behind us, look at the progress we made and continue to push forward.”
“The toughest part about today is seeing our seniors’ careers come to an end. We tell incoming freshmen that we want them to leave the program in a better place when their time is up than they receive it as freshmen. Without a doubt, 1000%, this senior class leaves the program in a better place. More than any singular game or moment, the forward progress the team has taken in their time here and the way they’ve raised our standards will live on.”