Valparaiso (5-2-3, 0-0-0 MVC)
Thursday, Sept. 28 - Missouri State (7-1-3, 2-0-1 MVC) - 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 1 - Murray State (2-6-3, 0-0-3 MVC) - 1 p.m.
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: With four points under its belt after two MVC road matches, the Valpo soccer team returns home to Brown Field for the first time in nearly a month this week for a pair of fixtures. It’s a battle of defending champions Thursday evening as the Beacons face 2022 MVC Tournament champion Missouri State, while Sunday afternoon’s matchup is against the Murray State program which knocked Valpo out of last year’s conference tournament.
Previously: Valpo opened MVC play with an unbeaten weekend on the road, playing to a 1-1 draw at Evansville before turning around to win at Indiana State by a 2-0 final. Chase Ray scored in both matches for the Beacons.
Looking Ahead: A three-match homestand ends next Thursday, Oct. 5 as Valpo takes on Illinois State. Next Sunday, Oct. 8, the Beacons return to the road to play at Drake.
Following the Beacons: Both of this weekend’s matches will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Links for the live video and live stats can be found at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: In his 16th season at the helm of the Valpo program, John Marovich holds a 126-114-45 (.521) record both overall and at Valpo as a head coach. The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year and the head of the 2022 MVC Coaching Staff of the Year, Marovich holds Valpo’s all-time records for both victories and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Missouri State - The Bears hold a 5-3-1 advantage in the all-time series, but it is Valpo with a slim 3-2-1 edge since joining the Valley. Last season, Missouri State dealt the Beacons their lone loss in MVC regular season action, as a 52nd minute goal was the difference in Springfield in a 1-0 match.
Murray State - Valpo leads the series with the Racers, 5-2-0. The two sides split last season’s pair of matchups - the Beacons took the regular season meeting by a 2-1 final, earning the road win behind goals from Addy Joiner and Abby White and a penalty save by Nikki Coryell, but Murray State gained a measure of revenge in the semifinals of the MVC Tournament with a 1-0 victory at Brown Field.
Scouting the Opposition: Missouri State - The Bears enter Thursday’s match with a 7-1-3 overall record on the season and atop the MVC table with a 2-0-1 mark through three conference matches, including wins over Illinois State (4-1) and Belmont (2-0) in their last two matches. Gracie English has scored a team-high four goals, while Hailey Chambliss leads the Bears with nine points (3g, 3a). Camielle Day has played the vast majority of time in goal and owns a 0.71 GAA and a .816 save percentage.
Murray State - The Racers enter the weekend at 2-6-3 on the season, including an 0-0-3 start to MVC play, and will play at UIC Thursday prior to Sunday’s showdown. All three of MSU’s draws to start conference play have been 0-0 standoffs, with Griselda Revolorio earning all three clean sheets. Mary Hardy has two of the Racers’ six goals on the year and has also picked up a pair of assists.
Valpo Picked Second in Preseason Poll: The Beacons were chosen to finish in second place in preseason polling of the MVC head coaches. Valpo, which picked up one first-place vote and tallied 107 points in the polling, trailed only Missouri State in the voting. The Beacons far outpaced third-place UIC, which totaled 92 points. Notably, the program has matched or surpassed its preseason projection in each of its first six seasons in the Valley.
Quartet of Preseason Honorees: Plenty of individual standouts have helped Valpo get to the point where it is regarded as one of the Valley’s top programs, and four of them were honored with preseason All-MVC accolades. Fifth-year Nicole Norfolk joined seniors Lindsey DuSatko and Nikki Coryell as preseason First Team All-MVC selections, while junior Addy Joiner picked up Honorable Mention accolades.
Looking Back at Last Season: Valpo’s journey up the MVC table over the last few years culminated last season with a dramatic final day of the regular season which saw the Beacons emerge with the MVC regular season championship - Valpo’s first team title in any sport since joining the Valley. The Beacons finished the season with an 8-7-4 overall record, including a 7-1-2 mark in MVC action to claim the regular season crown. Nikki Coryell was named MVC Goalkeeper of the Year for a third straight season, while John Marovich, Brianne Barnes and Noah Smith were honored as the Valley Coaching Staff of the Year. Nicole Norfolk was named a Third Team All-Region honoree as well.
Regular Season Champions: Trailing by two points entering the final match day, Valpo needed a win and some help to earn the 2022 MVC regular season title, and got both. Molly O’Rear’s goal in the 36th minute against Indiana State not only gave the Beacons a lead they would not surrender, it put Valpo atop the live conference table for good, as Illinois State led Missouri State at that point, 2-0, en route to a 4-2 win. For Valpo, it was the program’s fourth regular season conference championship. Valpo previously won Mid-Continent Conference regular season crowns in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and 2006, and posted a perfect record to claim the 2014 Horizon League regular season title.
Who’s Back and Who’s New: Valpo returns 18 letterwinners, including nine starters, from last year’s squad which claimed the MVC regular season title. The returnees accounted for 16 of the Beacon’s 19 goals and 17 of their 18 assists in Valley play last season. 11 newcomers round out the 2023 roster - nine incoming freshmen, one transfer and one redshirt.
Incremental Improvement: Since finishing joint sixth in the MVC table and missing out on the conference tournament via tiebreaker during the 2018 season, Valpo has improved its position in the final Valley standings each of the next four seasons. Valpo closed out the regular season in fifth place in 2019, finished tied for third in the spring of 2021 and were regular season runners-up in the fall of 2021 before claiming the regular season crown last fall.
Defense Stands Tall: Valpo’s success in conference play the last few years starts in the back with the strong play of three-time MVC Goalkeeper of the Year Nikki Coryell and the Beacons’ defense. Last season’s championship side surrendered just five goals in 10 Valley regular season matches and did not give up more than one goal in any conference fixture. In fact, dating back to the start of the spring 2021 campaign, Valpo has surrendered one goal or fewer in 27 out of 28 MVC matches - the lone exception being the fall 2021 regular season finale at Loyola.
Strong Nonconference Record: The Beacons finished nonconference play with a 4-2-2 record. This year’s side is the first Valpo team to finish above .500 in nonconference action since the 2017 squad went 6-5-0 outside of Valley play. It is the program’s best nonconference record since going 4-1-4 in 2014.
Starting Conference on the Right Foot: Valpo picked up points in both of its matches to open MVC play last week, rallying for a 1-1 draw before taking down Indiana State by a 2-0 final. It is the fourth straight Valley campaign that Valpo has opened with winning or drawing each of its first two matches. In all, Valpo has been unbeaten through two conference matches 12 times in program history - eight of those teams remained unbeaten through three matches, while four of those squads went at least four matches unbeaten to start conference play.
A Ray of Hope: Senior midfielder Chase Ray entered last week’s action with 56 career appearances in the Brown and Gold, but with no collegiate goals to her credit. But Ray broke that duck in a big way last weekend, finding the back of the net in back-to-back matches to account for two of Valpo’s three goals. Her 37th-minute goal at Evansville equalized that contest and she followed by scoring just 72 seconds in for the eventual match-winner at Indiana State.
Don’t Blink: Fans barely had time to settle in their seats in Terre Haute on Sunday afternoon before Ray struck for the match’s opening goal at the 1:12 mark, just missing cracking the program’s top-five fastest goals to start a match all-time. It was Valpo’s quickest opening goal since Rita Craven hit just 64 seconds in against Green Bay on Oct. 17, 2015.
Two Goals is Better Than One: Ray wasn’t the only Beacon to pick up her second goal of the season on Sunday, as Sam Gountounas scored an insurance tally in the 22nd minute to join her goal earlier this season against Eastern Illinois. With the addition of Ray and Gountounas, Valpo has six players who have scored at least two goals this year - matching the most by a Valpo side since the 2007 squad had seven players score at least twice.
DuSatko Cracks a Top Ten: Senior Lindsey DuSatko has been a chance creating machine lately, with four assists to her credit now over the last six matches after she picked up an assist on Sunday at Indiana State on Gountounas’ goal - while she didn’t get an assist on the opener, it was DuSatko’s cross which started the chance which ended up with Ray scoring against the Sycamores. DuSatko is up to 10 assists for her career, moving her into a tie for sixth in program history for career helpers.
Etch Her Name in the XI: With 10 starts this season under her belt - all of which she has played the full 90 minutes - fifth-year center back Nicole Norfolk is up to 76 career appearances and 76 career starts in the Valpo uniform. The 76 starts are tied for eighth-most by a player in program history, while with her next appearance, Norfolk will also crack the top-10 for matches played.
Joiner Just Keeps Scoring: One season after pacing Valpo in the goal-scoring department, junior Addy Joiner has continued her prolificacy in 2023. She netted just the eighth hat trick in program history on August 31 against Chicago State, and eight days later found the back of the net again for the eventual match-winner at Youngstown State. Joiner has scored a team-high five goals this year, tied for second in the Valley, and has 15 career goals to rank tied for eighth in program history.
Making Debuts: Six players have made their first appearances in the Valpo uniform this season, five of those collegiate debuts. DePaul transfer Aubrey Ramey started and played all 90 minutes at right back in both matches on opening weekend, tallying an assist in the opener against Eastern Illinois. Freshman Anna Cup also played all 180 minutes on opening weekend, slotting in immediately at center back. Freshman Daisy Boardman debuted with a 55-minute stint off the bench against EIU and then made her first collegiate start against NIU, going 58 minutes. Freshman Julianna De Simone saw her first collegiate action with a 26-minute shift on the front line versus NIU. Freshman Eve Miller made her collegiate debut with 20 minutes off the bench at Purdue, while most recently, freshman Hannah Gabriel came in for a 30-minute stretch in the win over Chicago State.
Three-Time Goalkeeper of the Year: Senior goalkeeper Nikki Coryell has quite simply been the Valley’s top goalkeeper throughout her career, as she has been honored as the MVC Goalkeeper of the Year in each of her three seasons. Last season, Coryell posted an 8-5-4 record with a 0.91 GAA and an .800 save percentage, posting seven clean sheets. Coryell and the Valpo defense surrendered just five goals in 10 MVC matches last season and posted five shutouts - matching the program record for the most clean sheets within conference play in a single season. In her three Goalkeeper of the Year campaigns, Coryell has posted a cumulative GAA of 0.59 and a save percentage of .878 in conference play. In 26 MVC fixtures, she holds a 16-4-6 record and has recorded 14 shutouts, giving up one goal or fewer in 25 of those 26 matches.
Running Up Top: Senior forward Lindsey DuSatko enters the 2023 campaign having earned All-Conference honors in each of the last two seasons, as she was a Second Team honoree in 2021 and a First Team choice last season. The pacey forward was tied for second among Valley players with four assists in MVC-only play in 2022, picking up a helper apiece in four of Valpo’s regular season conference wins, and scored a goal as well. DuSatko assisted on the match-winning goal in the Beacons’ win at Murray State and scored the game-tying goal in Valpo’s draw with Southern Illinois.
Locking Down the Back Line: Fifth-year center back Nicole Norfolk has been the linchpin in the Valpo defense ever since stepping onto campus prior to the 2019 season. The stalwart in the back was a First Team All-MVC honoree in 2022 after earning Second Team recognition the previous year. Valpo’s record holder for consecutive minutes played by a field player, Norfolk played all but 14 minutes of Valpo’s first 15 matches of the 2022 season before suffering an injury in mid-October. With Norfolk on the field during Valley regular season play, Valpo surrendered just one goal in 544 minutes of play. Norfolk added Third Team All-Midwest Region honors to her resume as well last season.
She Scores, We Win: Junior forward Addy Joiner was more than just a spark off the bench in 2022 - she was an assassin in front of goal. A First Team All-MVC honoree, Joiner finished the regular season with a Valley-high seven goals on the year and eventually concluded the season in second place with her seven tallies. The two-time MVC Offensive Player of the Week scored six of her seven goals in Valley play, one apiece in six of Valpo’s seven MVC victories. Her six goals in conference play were the most by a Valpo player in league action since Jackie Kondratko netted six goals in Horizon League matches in 2009.
Wait, There’s More!: The aforementioned four First Team All-MVC honorees from a season ago represent just over half of the total number of honorees from last season’s regular season champions. Fifth-year midfielder Allie Anderson picked up Second Team All-MVC recognition in 2022, while junior left back Abby White was a Third Team All-MVC choice. Sophomore Molly O’Rear rounds out last year’s award winners, as she claimed a spot on the MVC All-Freshman Team.
Even More on Last Year’s Awards: Valpo’s four First Team honorees in 2022 set a program record for postseason honors, as the program previously boasted three First Team All-League recipients on three occasions. The Beacons have had multiple First Team All-MVC honorees each of the last three seasons, and also have had at least one representative on the MVC All-Freshman Team in each of their six seasons in the conference.