Valparaiso (0-0-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Wednesday, Feb. 10 - at Sparta Dome - Chicago State (0-1-0, 0-0-0 WAC) - 1 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 17 - Rockford, Ill. - vs. UNI (0-0-0, 0-0-0 MVC) - 1 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 22 - at Sparta Dome - DePaul (0-0-0, 0-0-0 Big East) - 1 p.m.
Kicking Off the Season: 463 days after falling in the 2019 MVC Tournament, the Valpo women’s soccer team finally returns to competition this spring. Valpo will open the 28th season in program history by playing a trio of non-conference matches leading up to the start of the spring 2021 MVC schedule, facing Chicago State (Feb. 10) and DePaul (Feb. 22) at the Sparta Dome in Crown Point and taking on UNI in a non-conference matchup at the Indoor Sports Center in Rockford, Ill.
Following the Brown and Gold: Live stats only will be available for the three non-conference matches. MVC matches hosted at Brown Field are slated to be broadcast either on ESPN3 or ESPN+, while some road matches will be broadcast as well.
Head Coach John Marovich: In his 13th season at the helm of the Brown and Gold, John Marovich holds a 98-95-31 (.507) 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: Chicago State - This marks just the second meeting all-time for Valpo with the Cougars, as the Brown and Gold earned a 5-1 victory on Brown Field in September 2017. Current team members Keegan Maris and Tahelah Noel earned starting assignments in that match, with Maris registering a pair of assists.
UNI - Valpo owns a slight 4-3-0 advantage in the all-time series over the Panthers, most recently earning a 3-0 win in last season’s regular season finale. Lauren Torhorst notched a brace in that match and Natalie Graf found the back of the net as well, while Cierra Welch picked up two assists. The matchup on the 17th will be the first between the two sides at a neutral site.
DePaul - The Blue Demons own a 5-3-0 lead in the all-time series, but the two sides have not matched up on the pitch since 2013, when Valpo earned a 1-0 home win over DePaul. The series consisted of six matchups in a seven-year span between 1996 and 2002 before going dormant for a decade and then picking back up briefly for a home-and-home in 2012 and 2013.
Looking Back at 2019: Valpo posted a 2-15-1 record in 2019 and went 2-5-0 in its third season of Missouri Valley Conference play, finishing in fifth position in the conference regular season standings and qualifying for the conference tournament. Senior Ali Quillen earned Second Team All-MVC accolades, while junior Lauren Torhorst was an Honorable Mention All-MVC selection and Kiley Dugan and Nicole Norfolk earned MVC All-Freshman Team honors.
What’s Back and What’s New: Valpo returns 15 letterwinners from last year’s team for the spring 2021 campaign, including all of its goalscorers from last season and eight starters in all. Joining that group is a set of 10 freshmen ready for their first season of collegiate soccer.
An Unusual Season: Of course, this season is a different one for the Valpo women’s soccer program, as it competes as a spring sport for the first time in its history. Part of the oddity is the fact that non-conference play will be quite truncated from a normal season - while the MVC slate remains a full single round-robin schedule, Valpo is only scheduled to play three non-conference games. Three non-conference matches will be the fewest in a single season in program history, while playing a conference match only four games into the season will also be the earliest conference match in program history. Valpo will also play UNI in a non-conference match for its second contest of the year, the first time in program history it has played a conference foe in a regular season non-conference match.
A New Home Site: Playing as a spring sport brings extra challenges, one of which is figuring out how to get matches in during the month of February with winter weather. Valpo is slated to play each of its first three matches indoors, the first indoor regular season matches in program history. Two of those matches will be hosted by Valpo at Sparta Dome in Crown Point, just the fourth home site in program history. Valpo last played at a home site other than Brown Field on Oct. 30, 2012 in its final match at Eastgate Field, while its only home match all-time anywhere other than Brown Field or Eastgate Field came on Oct. 28, 2004, when it hosted Oral Roberts at Viking Field.
Returning Award Winners: Valpo returns three postseason award winners from the 2019 campaign. Lauren Torhorst was named an Honorable Mention All-MVC honoree as she went on a scoring spree within Valley play, ranking second in the conference with five goals scored. Torhorst recorded the first multi-goal match of her career at Indiana State to start things off, netted the lone goal in Valpo’s 1-0 win over Evansville, and then helped Valpo secure the fifth seed in the MVC Tournament with a brace – including the match-winning goal – in the 3-0 win over UNI to close the regular season. Torhorst became just the second player in program history to record a pair of multi-goal matches in regular season play against conference opponents, joining all-time leading scorer Lori Moore.
Two of Valpo’s rookies were honored as well as members of the 2019 MVC All-Freshman Team. Nicole Norfolk was a stalwart on defense for Valpo in her rookie season, starting every match and playing all 1,659 minutes over Valpo’s 18 fixtures. Norfolk also scored a goal on the offensive end in non-conference action against Wright State. Kiley Dugan started all 18 matches at forward for Valpo as a freshman, scoring a goal against Wright State and assisting on a goal in Valpo’s MVC win over UNI.
Starting Streaks: Dugan and Norfolk both enter the spring 2021 campaign having started 18 straight matches for Valpo, two of three returnees who started all 18 matches last year. Junior Morgen Metzger was a fixture in the 2019 starting XI as well in all 18 matches.
Iron Women: Norfolk is one of three returnees to this year’s squad who played every minute of at least 10 matches in 2019, but of course, the sophomore stands alone as she never came off the pitch over the duration of her freshman season, playing all 1,659 minutes. Metzger went the distance in 16 of Valpo’s 18 matches in 2019, including each of the last 10 contests, while sophomore Natalie Graf played the entirety of 12 matches during her rookie season.
Academic Success: The Valpo women’s soccer program has consistently produced champions in the classroom, and last year’s squad was no different. Valpo posted a 3.51 cumulative team GPA over the course of the 2019-20 academic year and earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for an 18th consecutive season.