Valparaiso (0-0-0, 0-0-0 MVC)
Thursday, Aug. 18 - at Eastern Illinois (0-0-0) - 4 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 21 - Youngstown State (0-0-0) - 1 p.m.
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: The Beacons kick off the 30th season of Valpo soccer this week with a pair of matches. Valpo opens the regular season on Thursday afternoon at Eastern Illinois before coming home to Brown Field for the home opener Sunday afternoon versus Youngstown State.
Previously: Valpo drew both of its exhibition matches, tying Western Michigan (2-2) and Toledo (3-3).
Looking Ahead: The Beacons head west next weekend, playing at Colorado and Northern Colorado. It will be a return to the Centennial State for sophomores Peyton Evans and Lauren Cook, both of whom hail from Colorado.
Following the Beacons: Both of this week’s matches will be broadcast on ESPN+. All nine of Valpo’s home matches are slated for broadcast on The Valley on ESPN (ESPN+ or ESPN3), while select road matches will be broadcast as well.
Head Coach John Marovich: In his 15th season at the helm of the Valpo program, John Marovich holds a 113-105-38 (.516) 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: EIU - The Panthers hold a slim 7-6-2 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo. Valpo has not lost to EIU since 2002, however, as it carries a seven-match unbeaten streak (6-0-1) in the series into Thursday’s matchup. The last meeting came on Aug. 19, 2018, a scoreless draw in which Drew Moulton earned the clean sheet in goal.
YSU - Valpo has dominated the all-time series over the Penguins, 11-2-3, but is just 1-2-2 versus YSU in their last five meetings in Valparaiso dating back to 2008. The last matchup came in Valpo’s last season as a Horizon League member: a 1-0 win for the Penguins on Brown Field on Oct. 15, 2016.
Scouting the Opposition: EIU - Coming off of a 4-11-2 record in 2021, the Panthers have been picked to finish in seventh place in the OVC preseason poll. Notably, EIU beat both Murray State and Belmont - both now MVC members - in OVC play last season. Leading scorer Zenaya Barnes (3g, 1a) is back for her senior season, while Faith Davies - who played every minute in goal last year - returns as well.
YSU - The Penguins posted a 2-11-5 record last season and were 2-5-4 in Horizon League action. YSU returns 22 letterwinners from that squad, including seniors Regan LaVigna and Abriana Rondin, who tied for team-high honors with two goals apiece. Brooklyn Kirkpatrick, who posted a 1.02 GAA and an .846 save percentage in eight matches is goal, also is back.
Valpo Picked Atop Preseason Poll: The Beacons will be the hunted rather than the hunter this season, as Valpo was chosen atop the MVC preseason poll. Valpo gathered eight out of 11 potential first-place votes and totaled 116 out of 121 potential points, 22 points clear of second-placed Indiana State in the poll. Notably, the program has matched or surpassed its preseason projection in each of its first five seasons in the Valley.
Quartet of Preseason Honorees: Plenty of individual standouts have helped Valpo get to the point where it is the preseason Valley favorite, and four of them were honored with preseason All-MVC accolades. Seniors Kiley Dugan and Nicole Norfolk were joined by juniors Nikki Coryell and Kelsie James as preseason honorees. Valpo topped all MVC schools with four members of the preseason All-Conference squad.
Looking Back at Last Season: Valpo put together its best season since joining the Valley last fall, finishing the year with a 10-6-2 overall record and a 6-1-1 mark in Valley play to finish in second place in the standings. The Beacons went unbeaten in their first seven MVC fixtures, part of a nine-match unbeaten streak - the second-longest such streak in program history. Eight players earned postseason awards from the MVC, highlighted by the selection of Nikki Coryell as MVC Goalkeeper of the Year for a second straight season. Kelsie James joined Coryell on the All-MVC First Team, while James and Kiley Dugan were both Second Team All-Region selections.
What’s Back and What’s New: Valpo returns 20 letterwinners from last season’s MVC runner-up squad, including nine starters. Joining the fold this year are six newcomers - five freshmen and one transfer.
National Recognition: Senior Kiley Dugan and junior Kelsie James both earned preseason recognition on a national level as well, as both were named preseason Players to Watch by United Soccer Coaches. The preseason Players to Watch lists are being released for the first time this season by the Division I All-America Committees to promote college soccer leading up to the official start date for the regular season. The lists include United Soccer Coaches All-Americans and first or second team All-Region players from 2021 who are scheduled to return for the 2022 season.
Coryell Between the Pipes: The two-time reigning MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, junior goalkeeper Nikki Coryell is back for her third season in net for the Beacons. Coryell posted an 8-6-2 record with a 1.15 GAA and an .819 save percentage a season ago and registered five solo shutouts, all of which came within MVC play. Coryell led the conference in MVC-only play in save percentage (.865), tied for the top spot in MVC-only action in shutouts and ranked third against conference foes in GAA (0.85). Also a two-time First Team All-MVC selection and a Third Team All-Region honoree last season, she already is tied for second in program history in career GAA (0.85) and ranks fifth in shutouts (12).
Dugan Gets It Done: A consistent presence up front for the Beacons, senior Kiley Dugan returns at forward. A Second Team All-MVC and Second Team All-Region choice last season, Dugan started all 18 matches and played the most minutes of any Valpo forward. She registered a pair of assists on the year, including a helper on the match-winning goal in the regular-season win over Evansville.
James Leads the Attack: Junior Kelsie James has cemented herself not only as one of the top attackers in the MVC, but as one of the top forwards in the Midwest. A First Team All-MVC choice and Second Team All-Region selection last season, James led the Valley last season with nine goals - becoming the first player in program history to lead the conference in goals. She also tied for the MVC best with 22 points, ranking sixth in a single season in program history in points and seventh in goals. James stepped up her game in conference-only action, pacing all MVC players in both goals (5) and match-winning goals (3).
Norfolk Anchors the Back Line: Senior Nicole Norfolk has been a rock in the center of Valpo’s back line ever since stepping on campus. A Second Team All-MVC selection last season, Norfolk set a program record for a field player by playing 3,591 consecutive matches to start her career before being subbed out late in a September win over St. Bonaventure. Norfolk went the distance in 16 of Valpo’s 18 matches last season and was part of a defensive unit which recorded eight clean sheets, five of which came in MVC play.
DuSatko Runs Up Top: Junior Lindsey DuSatko picked up Second Team All-MVC recognition a season ago despite missing three of Valpo’s eight conference fixtures. She ranked second on the team in both goals (3) and points (8). Two of DuSatko’s three goals came in conference play — the match-winner in extra time at Indiana State and the opening goal in Valpo’s win at Missouri State.
More on Last Year’s Awards: Coryell and James were the only two underclassmen to earn First Team All-MVC honors, while Valpo led the conference with five honorees between the first team and the second team. The last time Valpo had five players earn first or second team honors in the same season came back in 2005 in the Mid-Con.
Wait, There’s Even More!: In all, eight players earned postseason accolades from the Valley last year. Senior Natalie Graf was an Honorable Mention All-MVC choice, as she showcased her versatility, playing the third-most minutes among Valpo field players and seeing action at both defensive midfielder and center back. Dana Fish and Abby White represented the Beacons on the All-Freshman Team - Fish scored three goals, including match-winners against Illinois State and Southern Illinois, while White slotted in at left back from the season’s onset and played the second-most minutes among field players.
Regionally Ranked: Valpo is looking to start this season the same way it ended the regular season last year - among the ten squads ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Midwest Region ranking. This year’s first regional ranking will come out after the first weekend of competition. Last season, Valpo was ranked in each of the season’s final four weeks, reaching as high as #8.
Always in the XI: Three players started all 18 matches for Valpo a season ago: Kiley Dugan, Nicole Norfolk and Abby White. Entering their fourth season in the Valpo uniform, Dugan and Norfolk have both started all 50 matches since stepping on campus.