The Valpo soccer team lives to play at least another 90 minutes this season, as the sixth-seeded Beacons took the lead on seventh-seeded Belmont Thursday afternoon in the eighth minute and kept the Bruins off the board the rest of the way to earn a 1-0 victory in the first round of the MVC Tournament. With the win, Valpo advances to play third-seeded UNI in second-round action Sunday afternoon.
How It Happened
- After an early stretch of defending deep, the Beacons got out onto the attack and scored on their first sustained pressure. Senior Lindsey DuSatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) won Valpo a corner, and classmate Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) came over to take the set piece. James sent a perfectly-placed corner towards the goal line in the center of the box, and DuSatko — just in front of Belmont goalkeeper Sarah Doyle — redirected it into the back of the net for the early 1-0 lead.
- That was one of eight corners for Valpo in the first half as the Beacons kept the pressure on throughout the opening 45 minutes, but turned out to be the only one they converted on.
- Meanwhile, the Valpo defense kept Belmont at bay for most of the half, save for a couple moments on set pieces mid-half. The Bruins’ Maci Pekmezian sent a direct free kick off the post in the 21st minute, but it was an effort which goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) had covered if it had been on target.
- Two minutes later, another free kick led to back-to-back tough stops by Coryell. Taken from the left flank, the free kick took one hop in the box to Belmont’s Carly Ross at the far post at the edge of the six. Coryell came off her line well and sprawled out, denying Ross with an outstretched leg. She then hopped up and dove back to her right to save the rebound effort by Anna Sweeney from 10 yards away.
- The match went into halftime scoreless, and the second half played out with the same scoreline for its entirety as the Beacons successfully saw out the match and advanced in the tournament.
Inside the Match
- Thursday’s victory was just the second win in program history in the MVC Tournament (2-8-1). It also was the first victory in regular time.
- The clean sheet was Valpo’s third all-time in MVC Tournament action.
- The win came against a Belmont side which dealt the Beacons a 2-0 defeat in their regular season meeting. It is the first time since 2009, when Valpo lost to Wright State 3-0 in the regular season and then earned a 2-1 win over the Raiders in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament, that the program has beaten a team in the postseason it lost to in the regular season.
- DuSatko’s goal was her fourth of the season and the 11th of her Valpo career. It was her fourth career match-winner, two of which have come in MVC Tournament play.
- The goal was Valpo’s fourth of the season in the opening 10 minutes of the match.
- James’ assist on the match’s lone goal was the 12th assist of her career, moving her into a tie for third in program history.
- Coryell totaled five saves to keep the clean sheet Thursday. With 25 career shutouts, she is now alone in third place in MVC history — just one clean sheet out of second and two away from first.
- Valpo held a slim 10-9 edge in shots, while both sides put five shots on goal Thursday. The Beacons racked up eight corner kicks, all of which came in the first half, while limiting the Bruins to one corner.
- The Beacons posted the shutout despite being without veteran center back Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels). In Norfolk’s absence, senior Aubrey Ramey (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School [DePaul]) shifted from right back to center back, while junior Sam Gountounas (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) and freshman Daisy Boardman (Warrington, England) covered at right back.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“Just a gritty win today. When you get into the conference tournament, that’s what it’s about — you know it’s going to be a battle and we battled for 90 minutes.”
“I thought the way we adapted to the conditions, dealing with the wind and the wet grass, was really good — we made some good adjustments.”
“Our goal came off something we talked about in our scout. We saw something we felt really good about, and it was great to see the execution of what we talked about on the training ground pay off.”
“Everybody that played today really put in a good shift. I thought our back line did an excellent job and embraced the next woman up mentality with the adjustments we had to make back there — I was impressed with how that group responded, and it really shows the strength and character of our players.”
Valpo (8-5-6) advances to the second round of the MVC Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Sunday, taking on third-seeded UNI. The match, which kicks off at 1 p.m., can be seen live on ESPN+.