It was a dream Sunday for the Valpo soccer team and Valpo Athletics, as the Beacons took care of their business with a 4-1 win on Brown Field over Indiana State in the regular season finale. Minutes after Valpo’s win ended, the score went final in Normal, Ill. — a 4-2 Illinois State win over Missouri State which made the Beacons outright MVC regular season champions. The conference title is Valpo’s first in any team sport since joining the Valley.
How It Happened
- Valpo started out on the front foot, recording five shot attempts and earning a pair of corner kicks in the opening eight minutes.
- The Sycamores had a stellar chance to take the lead in the 17th minute. Three players converged on a ball at the corner of the six-yard box, and the end result was Indiana State’s Chloe Tesny having a shot at goal with Valpo goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley). Tesny’s effort hit the post and was trapped against the post, mere inches from crossing the line, by sophomore Emma Morrison (Canton, Mich./Plymouth-Canton), who was then able to clear the danger.
- Coryell made a nice stop with an outstretched hand to her right on a shot by CeCe Wahlberg in the 20th minute.
- Valpo held the Sycamores to just one shot over the final 25 minutes of the first half and consistently pressed forward in an attempt to pull in front — a push which paid off in the 36th minute. The Beacons had a free kick in the offensive half and senior Abbey Hillman (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central [Loyola]) won the second ball, playing it into space in the attacking third. Freshman Molly O’Rear (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) beat the Indiana State defender to the ball, got turned toward goal, took a couple touches and took a strong strike with her left foot from nearly 25 yards out that beat Sycamore goalkeeper Tara Hoffman in the lower-left corner to give Valpo the 1-0 edge.
- The Beacons doubled their lead just 63 seconds out from the halftime break. Junior Lindsey DuSatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) played a long ball which senior Kiley Dugan (Irwin, Pa./Penn-Trafford) ran onto shoulder-to-shoulder with an Indiana State back. Dugan managed to get enough space to get a shot off from the edge of the six-yard box, an effort which was saved by Hoffman. But the rebound went right to sophomore Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) in the center of the six, and the Valley’s leading goal scorer did what she does best, blasting it into the upper-right corner to make it 2-0 Beacons.
- The duo of DuSatko and Dugan reversed their roles in the goal buildup for Valpo’s third goal, just over 10 minutes later. Dugan won the second ball off a Sycamore goal kick and touched it for DuSatko on one of her runs down the right flank. DuSatko got around a defender and was able to center for Andrea Garcia (Aurora, Ont./Cardinal Carter Catholic [Hartford/FDU]), who knocked home her first goal at Valpo from eight yards out.
- Garcia doubled her output on the day to help ice the game away in the 69th minute. Off a corner kick, junior Chase Ray (Bellevue, Ohio/Bellevue) had a header at the far post which was blocked by an Indiana State defender. The ball fell straight to Garcia in the center of the box, and she did the rest, finishing into the top netting to push the scoreline to 4-0.
- The Sycamores got a consolation tally in the final minute, as a foul was called against Valpo in the box and Anna Holcombe converted the ensuing penalty. As the clock hit zero, the Beacons celebrated the victory — the first of a few celebrations in a short span.
- While Valpo was taking care of its end of the equation at Brown Field, the Beacons were getting help two and a half hours away — although the assistance was unknown to the players.
- Valpo entered the day needing a win and a Missouri State loss at Illinois State to claim the outright regular season championship, which includes hosting rights for the semifinals and title match of the MVC Tournament. A win and a Missouri State draw would mean Valpo would share the regular season title, but would be the two seed for the tournament.
- The Redbirds jumped out to a quick start, striking in the sixth and the 10th minutes to quickly go up 2-0. Illinois State pushed the lead to 3-0 in the 54th minute, but the Bears clawed that goal back five minutes later to make it 3-1.
- Illinois State restored the three-goal edge in the 68th minute, and while Missouri State pulled back within 4-2 in the 77th minute, the Bears did not register another shot on goal as the Redbirds saw out the victory.
- Valpo’s game finished up about four minutes before Missouri State’s, setting off a second celebration as the Beacons’ players heard the situation in Normal for the first time. A few minutes later, when the match went final and the championship was secured, another raucous celebration was had — complete with the MVC Regular Season Champions sign and a water bath from the Gatorade cooler for head coach John Marovich.
Inside the Match and the Season
- Valpo has now won four regular season league championships over three different conferences. The program claimed back-to-back regular season titles in 2005 and 2006 in the Mid-Continent Conference and took the Horizon League regular season championship in 2014.
- As an athletic department, Valpo won its first team championship since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
- The Beacons claimed the regular season title with a 7-1-2 mark in MVC play, finishing with 23 points — one clear of 7-2-1 Missouri State atop the table.
- Valpo did it with strong play on both sides of the ball, as the Beacons outscored their opposition 19-5 in their 10 Valley matches. Valpo paced all conference schools in both goals scored and goals against in conference play.
- The Beacons gave up one goal or fewer in all 10 of their MVC fixtures.
- Offensively, Sunday’s win was the team’s fourth multi-goal win in conference play — the program’s most since winning four Horizon League matches by two or more goals in 2009.
- O’Rear found the back of the net for the fourth time this season. All 10 of the freshman’s points came within conference-only play, as she was tied for third in goals and ranked fourth in points in MVC matches.
- Joiner concluded the regular season atop the MVC goal-scoring chart, striking for the seventh time this season for the eventual match-winner. Six of Joiner’s seven goals came in Valley play — one apiece in six of the Beacons’ seven conference wins. The six goals in league play is the most for a Valpo player since Jackie Kondratko knocked in six goals in Horizon League play in 2009.
- Joiner leads all conference players overall in goals scored and is tied atop the chart for points.
- Dugan’s assist on Joiner’s match-winner was her first assist of the season and the fourth assist of her career.
- Garcia took full advantage of her only two shots on goal of the regular season, scoring twice for her first two goals in the Valpo uniform. She doubled her collegiate output on Sunday, as she now has four career collegiate goals.
- Garcia’s brace was the first of this season by a Valpo player. Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) had the last two-goal game by a Beacon, scoring twice in the penultimate match of the 2021 regular season against Evansville.
- DuSatko’s assist on Garcia’s first goal was her fourth of the season — all of which have come in Valley play — and the sixth of her career. Meanwhile, Ray picked up her first career point on Garcia’s second goal.
- Coryell finished the afternoon with five saves in the winning effort in goal, surrendering only the last-minute penalty. The junior, who is the two-time reigning MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, finished the regular season with the best save percentage and goals against average in MVC-only play.
- Valpo ended the match with a 24-11 advantage over the Sycamores in the shots department. The Beacons also took six of the match’s eight corner kicks.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“This is truly a team championship. We’ve needed every single player to play their role and to be ready to step up when called upon. To a player, everyone stepped to the forefront and accepted that challenge. I’m just really proud and super humbled to get to coach them.”
“This group has been a resilient group — they’ve battled every day, stuck to our process and not allowed the results to become part of the conversation. I’m especially proud of how they’ve stayed the course through the season, and now they get to call themselves regular season champions.”
“I thought we came out on the front foot today, created some really good chances through both flanks early in the match. It was a bit unfortunate we didn’t put one of those early ones away. Ultimately though, we were a little too deep with some of our positioning in the wide channels. We addressed that at halftime and made adjustments for the second half, executed well and got ourselves into good spaces.”
“So many good performances all over today. Hilly did a great job combining on the right flank with Lindsey. Andrea steps up and plays the second half as our 10, that was really big and that’s how you win a championship, having players step up like that. I’m so happy for her goals, especially since her family was able to be here today. Addy does what she’s been doing all year, coming off the bench and being a spark in the attack. Emma continuing to fill in at center back, makes a great play to keep Indiana State off the board early in the first half.”
“We’ll enjoy this accomplishment for a day or two, because the work this group has put in deserves the chance to celebrate a tremendous achievement. This is just the first of our goals, though, and we’ll turn our attention to be focused on the tournament this week — we still have more to play for in front of us.”
Valpo (8-6-4, 7-1-2 MVC) earns a bye to the MVC Tournament semifinals with Sunday’s win and will host the semifinals and title match as the one seed. The semifinals will be held on Thursday, Nov. 3, with the championship match at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6 on Brown Field. The Beacons will learn their semifinal opponent next Sunday.