Valparaiso (1-5-2, 0-0-0 MVC)
Saturday, Sept. 17 - at UNI (3-3-1, 0-0-0 MVC) - noon
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: The Valpo soccer team opens the 2022 Missouri Valley Conference slate this weekend, heading west to Cedar Falls, Iowa to take on UNI Saturday afternoon.
Previously: The Beacons fell in their final two nonconference matches of the 2022 campaign last weekend, dropping a 1-0 decision to Purdue Fort Wayne and a 3-0 final to Bowling Green.
Looking Ahead: Valpo returns to Brown Field for its next two matches, as the Beacons will host UIC on Thursday, Sept. 22 and Drake on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Following the Beacons: Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on ESPN3. All nine of Valpo’s home matches are slated for broadcast on The Valley on ESPN (ESPN+ or ESPN3), while select road matches will be broadcast as well.
Head Coach John Marovich: In his 15th season at the helm of the Valpo program, John Marovich holds a 114-110-40 (.508) record both overall and at Valpo as a head coach. The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year, Marovich holds Valpo’s all-time records for both victories and winning percentage.
Series Notes: The all-time series between Valpo and UNI stands even, as the two sides are 4-4-2 against each other. Valpo is just 1-3-2 against the Panthers since joining the MVC, however, and is in search of its first win over UNI since the 2019 season. Last season, the two squads battled to a scoreless draw on Brown Field, a result which snapped a seven-match winning streak for the Beacons.
Scouting the Opposition: UNI enters Saturday’s match at 3-3-1 on the season, but has dropped its last three matches after a 3-0-1 start to the campaign. Most recently, the Panthers fell 6-0 to Iowa on Sunday. Saturday’s fixture will be UNI’s eighth straight at home. Lauren Heinsch and Allison Whitaker have both scored two of the Panthers’ nine goals, while Sydney Burskey (1g, 3a) has a team-high five points.
Valpo Picked Atop Preseason Poll: The Beacons will be the hunted rather than the hunter this season, as Valpo was chosen atop the MVC preseason poll. Valpo gathered eight out of 11 potential first-place votes and totaled 116 out of 121 potential points, 22 points clear of second-placed Indiana State in the poll. Notably, the program has matched or surpassed its preseason projection in each of its first five seasons in the Valley.
Quartet of Preseason Honorees: Plenty of individual standouts have helped Valpo get to the point where it is the preseason Valley favorite, and four of them were honored with preseason All-MVC accolades. Seniors Kiley Dugan and Nicole Norfolk were joined by juniors Nikki Coryell and Kelsie James as preseason honorees. Valpo topped all MVC schools with four members of the preseason All-Conference squad.
Looking Back at Last Season: Valpo put together its best season since joining the Valley last fall, finishing the year with a 10-6-2 overall record and a 6-1-1 mark in Valley play to finish in second place in the standings. The Beacons went unbeaten in their first seven MVC fixtures, part of a nine-match unbeaten streak - the second-longest such streak in program history. Eight players earned postseason awards from the MVC, highlighted by the selection of Nikki Coryell as MVC Goalkeeper of the Year for a second straight season. Kelsie James joined Coryell on the All-MVC First Team, while James and Kiley Dugan were both Second Team All-Region selections.
What’s Back and What’s New: Valpo returns 20 letterwinners from last season’s MVC runner-up squad, including nine starters. Joining the fold this year are six newcomers - five freshmen and one transfer.
Looking For Conference Success: With the start of MVC play this weekend, Valpo is looking to build on its success within conference play over the last two seasons. Since the start of the spring 2021 campaign, the Beacons are 9-3-4 within regular season MVC matches - a mark which improves to 9-1-4 with the removal of the two Loyola matches. In fact, Valpo’s first conference opponent - UNI - is the only current MVC opponent which has beaten the Beacons over the last two regular seasons.
Turn The Tide: With the nonconference behind them, the Beacons can look to last year’s side as a model for how to get things going in the right direction with the start of MVC action. The 2021 Valpo squad was just 3-4-1 in nonconference play before ripping off wins in each of its first five MVC matches en route to a 6-1-1 conference record. In fact, in each of the last three seasons, Valpo has posted a better winning percentage in MVC play than in its preconference schedule.
Find the Back of the Net: Valpo is looking to snap a scoreless streak which currently sits at 286 minutes, the program’s longest since the 2019 side played 346 consecutive minutes without scoring early in the season. The final piece has been the only downfall on the attack, however, as the Beacons are generating plenty of chances. Valpo is averaging nearly 15 shots per game, a mark which is nearly four shots per game more than its opponents. And the Beacons have put plenty of chances on goal as well, only to run into career games from opposing goalkeepers - in fact, the .940 save percentage by Valpo’s opponents would currently rank fourth nationally in save percentage by a team.
New Season, Same Weekly Honors: It’s become a habit for Valpo to pick up weekly awards from the MVC over the last few seasons, and that continued after opening weekend as goalkeeper Nikki Coryell was named the MVC Defensive Player of the Week after posting a pair of clean sheets. Coryell, whose four saves included a diving effort in the final seconds to preserve the 0-0 draw at EIU Aug. 18, has now been named MVC Defensive Player of the Week five times, tying her with Kelsie James (two Offensive, three Freshman) for the second-most prolific weekly award winner in program history, trailing only Lori Moore (1999-2002), who was a six-time Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week.
The First Time: Five newcomers have seen their first action in the Valpo uniform this season, most recently Kennedy Hill on Sept. 4 at Ball State. In addition, five different players have earned their first career start at Valpo this year, most recently fifth-year transfer Andrea Garcia last time out on Senior Day versus Bowling Green.
National Recognition: Senior Kiley Dugan and junior Kelsie James both earned preseason recognition on a national level as well, as both were named preseason Players to Watch by United Soccer Coaches. The preseason Players to Watch lists are being released for the first time this season by the Division I All-America Committees to promote college soccer leading up to the official start date for the regular season. The lists include United Soccer Coaches All-Americans and first or second team All-Region players from 2021 who are scheduled to return for the 2022 season.
Always in the XI: Three players started all 18 matches for Valpo a season ago: Kiley Dugan, Nicole Norfolk and Abby White. White did not play against Chicago State, snapping a string of 22 consecutive starts to begin her collegiate career. In their fourth season in the Valpo uniform, Dugan and Norfolk have both started all 58 matches since stepping on campus.