Valpo soccer freshman Molly O’Rear (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) made her first collegiate goal a memorable one on Saturday, as she struck for an 87th-minute goal in the Beacons’ MVC opener at UNI to give Valpo a 1-0 win over the host Panthers.
How It Happened
- The Valpo defense was up to the task in the early going, as the back line got in front of a pair of UNI shot attempts from in close in the opening minutes and Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made a trio of saves in the opening 30 minutes.
- Perhaps the best chance of the first half for either side came in the 31st minute, and it was O’Rear who had that opportunity. Lindsey DuSatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) chipped a ball across into the center of the box where the rookie was running unmarked. O’Rear didn’t make clean contact, but did get her right foot on it and sent it toward goal, where UNI goalkeeper Caitlin Richards parried it away with a diving right hand.
- The teams went into halftime scoreless, as both sides registered six first-half shots, putting three apiece on goal.
- With the scoreline still 0-0 well into the second half, the Valpo defense tightened up, surrendering just one shot attempt to the Panthers in the final 25 minutes.
- It looked like Valpo might have an opportunity for a penalty kick with 22 minutes to play, but shouts for a handball in the box were waved away.
- The Beacons attack kept the pressure on the Panthers in the late stages, and a quick push up the field in the 87th minute culminated in the match-winning goal. Following a UNI throw-in in its attacking third, Valpo won possession at the top of the defensive 18-yard box and sent a long ball ahead to Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel).
- The Panther defender marking James was forced to play the ball out, giving Valpo a throw-in 25 yards from goal. James didn’t hesitate, quickly grabbing and taking the throw-in towards the top of the box. The throw bounced once up to Allie Anderson (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South [Xavier]), who flicked it on with her head to O’Rear.
- O’Rear turned, getting her marker off balance, and found herself with an open shot from the top of the 18. The freshman hit a hard strike with her left foot that smashed into the top-left corner of the goal for the deciding tally. The entire sequence, from Valpo gaining possession to the ball hitting the back of the net, took 21 seconds.
Inside the Match
- Valpo opens MVC play with a 1-0 win for the second straight year, beating Illinois State by the same score in the conference opener last season. Prior to last year, the Beacons had not opened conference play by taking all three points since 2017.
- The win was Valpo’s first over UNI in the last four meetings between the two programs.
- O’Rear became the first Valpo freshman to score a match-winning goal since teammate Dana Fish (Sheboygan, Wis./Sheboygan North) did so last September against Southern Illinois. She is the first rookie to make her first career goal a match-winner since Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) scored the opener in a 3-0 win over St. Bonaventure last September.
- O’Rear’s match-winner was the latest match-winner in regulation by a Valpo player since Kelsey Jahn struck with 27 seconds to play in the 90 in the 2017 MVC opener at Missouri State.
- O’Rear’s goal snapped a scoring drought of 373 minutes for the Beacons.
- Both Anderson and James earned assists for their contributions to the match-winner. Anderson’s assist was her second of the season and the fifth of her collegiate career, while James owns eight career assists — two of which have come this year.
- Defensively, Coryell finished with four saves to post her third clean sheet of the season. She now sits alone in fourth place in program history with 15 shutouts.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“It’s always tough playing on the road in the Valley. We handled that well today, and did a good job dealing with the elements as well. Our overall performance was gritty — we got into tackles when we needed to. We worked really hard to create a rhythm to the game which reflected our style, our brand, trying to play along the ground and did that well.”
“It takes a lot of little details, a full team effort to score goals, and you saw that in our goal. We get a big win on the challenge at the top of our defensive 18, play a good ball deep. Kelsie works hard, forces UNI to play it out, and then doesn’t wait on the throw. Allie flicks the throw on, Molly turns and hits a great left-footed shot. That’s how you score goals.”
“A big key for us coming into today was winning the first ball on UNI’s services into the box. Chase comes in and it felt like she was in the middle of every single aerial challenge in those areas, winning every head ball.”
“Any time you come away with three points on the road is going to be a good day. We’ll enjoy this for 24 hours and then prepare to get back at it for Thursday’s match.”
Valpo (2-5-2, 1-0-0 MVC) welcomes Valley newcomer UIC to Brown Field on Thursday evening. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and the match can be seen live on ESPN+.