While the Valpo soccer team saw its seven-match winning streak come to an end on Sunday afternoon at Brown Field, the Beacons’ strong defensive work helped them see out all 110 minutes of the match in a 0-0 draw with UNI. The one point that comes with the draw gives Valpo 16 points with two matches left in MVC play and clinched a top-two regular season finish and the corresponding bye to the conference tournament semifinals.
How It Happened
- For the fifth time in six MVC matches this season, Valpo went into halftime scoreless with its opponent. But it wasn’t for a lack of chances Sunday, as the two sides combined for five shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes. Sophomore goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made three saves in the first half, while her Panther counterpart, Chloe Russo, stopped two shots.
- After a first half which was pretty evenly contested, the Beacons started to control the run of play in the second half. The second 45 minutes saw an 11-3 advantage in the shot department for Valpo.
- Included among those 11 shots was perhaps the best chance of the match for either side. In the 76th minute, a reset off a corner resulted in a cross from the left by sophomore Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) towards the far post. Junior Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) got a clean run at it and a clean strike, but it ricocheted back off the post to keep the game scoreless.
- UNI pushed forward as extra time began, earning three corner kicks and firing off four shots in the first 10-minute period, but Coryell stood her ground in goal, making three saves to extend the match.
- The two sides combined for five shots in the second period of extra time, but neither team could find the golden goal as the match ended nil-nil. James had a great opportunity in the box after an interception following an injury restart, but Russo made the save.
Inside the Match
- The draw does snap Valpo’s seven-match winning streak, matching the third-longest winning streak in program history.
- The side’s unbeaten streak continues at eight consecutive matches, however, tying the second-longest unbeaten streak in program history. The 2014 squad went 18 consecutive matches without losing (14-0-4), while the 2006 (8-0-0) and 2009 (7-0-1) teams each went eight straight without losing.
- With Sunday’s draw, Valpo now sits at 5-0-1 in MVC play. The Beacons are assured of at worst a tie for second place in the final regular season standings and own the tiebreaker over Indiana State, the only team below them which can also reach 16 points, by virtue of the win earlier this season in Terre Haute.
- With that, Valpo will advance directly to the MVC Tournament semifinals for the first time since joining the conference.
- The regular season finish will not only be the soccer program’s best since joining the MVC, it will be the best regular season finish by any Valpo team since the move to the Valley.
- The sterling defense since the start of MVC play continued to shine on Sunday, as Valpo posted its fifth clean sheet in six conference matches and has still surrendered just one goal in conference action. The team now has eight shutouts on the year, seven of which have come in the current unbeaten streak.
- While Valpo out-shot UNI by a 19-13 margin, the Panthers placed nine shots on goal to the Beacons’ seven. Coryell was up to the task, stopping all nine shots — her highest save total since the start of Valley play. She now owns nine clean sheets in 14 career MVC matches.
- Coryell surpassed the 2,500-minute mark for her career Sunday, meaning she now qualifies for career goals against average charts. Her 0.67 GAA to date in her career is easily best in Valpo history, besting Sydney Galvez-Daley’s 0.80 mark, and she currently ranks second in MVC history as well.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I think today was a standard day in Missouri Valley Conference play. Every team comes into each match, competes at a high level and competes hard.”
“There were moments in the game today where we weren’t as good as we’ve been over the past month, but at the same time, we still put ourselves in positions which created opportunities. Some areas, we weren’t great in, but in other areas, we grew as the game progressed. We did a much better job as the game went along on solving how UNI was pressing, and I liked the different ways we were trying to break down their back line.”
“Today just wasn’t our day to extend our winning streak, but at the end of the day, we didn’t give away a goal and we came away with a point, which gives us the opportunity to have a bye in the conference tournament. This puts us in a good spot, and now we just have to learn from today’s game and focus on continuing our process as we progress as a team.”
Valpo (9-4-2, 5-0-1 MVC) closes out the home portion of the 2021 regular season schedule Saturday evening at Brown Field against Evansville. The match is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff and can be seen live on ESPN+.