Despite being the more dangerous side for most of the match, the Valpo soccer team found itself in need of a lunging save in the final seconds from two-time MVC Goalkeeper of the Year Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) to preserve a 0-0 draw in the Beacons’ season opener Thursday afternoon at Eastern Illinois.
How It Happened
- After settling into the game in the first few minutes, Valpo consistently pushed forward for much of the first half and found itself a number of quality chances.
- In the eighth minute, junior Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) got around goalkeeper Daniela Bermeo inside the box, but a lunging tackle from an EIU back knocked the ball out for a corner.
- A free kick in the attacking third in the 36th minute led to a great opportunity, as the boot from Allie Anderson (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South [Xavier]) went to the far side of the box and was knocked back into the center, where a header by freshman Molly O’Rear (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) was tipped up and over the bar by a leaping Bermeo.
- Approaching halftime, the Beacons put together a good combination of passes which resulted in Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) getting a good look at goal from the top of the box and forcing Bermeo to make another strong save.
- Into the second half, the story stayed the same, as it was Valpo on the front foot for much of the final 45 minutes, only missing the last piece to find the back of the net.
- Eastern Illinois turned the tables a bit in the final 12 minutes of the match, tallying three corner kicks and five shot attempts over the final stretch. The last of those efforts — a shot from Jenna Little from 25 yards out between defenders with inside of 15 seconds to play — proved to be the most dangerous, forcing Coryell to lay out to her left and push the ball away with both hands to keep the Panthers off the board and secure the draw.
Inside the Match
- Thursday was Valpo’s first clean sheet in a season opener since the 2017 campaign. It also marked the first draw to open a season in program history.
- Thursday’s outcome also was a first of another variety, as it was the first tie in program history without any extra time being played. This season, the NCAA eliminated overtime in regular season play, ensuring all matches — no matter the scoreline — will end in 90 minutes in the regular season.
- Coryell was credited with a pair of saves in the shutout. The 13th clean sheet of her Valpo career, the junior is now one shy of Sydney Galvez-Daley for fourth in program history.
- Valpo held a 15-10 advantage in the shots category, with half of EIU’s efforts coming in that final 12-minute spurt. The Beacons forced Bermeo to make four saves.
- Only 14 players saw action for the Beacons on Thursday afternoon, as seven of Valpo’s 11 starters went the full 90 minutes.
- Included among that group which went the full 90 was O’Rear, who started and went the distance in her collegiate debut. She was the only Valpo newcomer to step on the pitch.
- Seniors Kiley Dugan (Irwin, Pa./Penn-Trafford) and Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) extended their starting streaks to 51 consecutive matches apiece.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“To get away with a tie on the road is a good result, but when you look at our performance, we weren’t quite good enough with the final pieces of our attack, and that’s why we got the tie today instead of maybe a win.”
“I thought Eastern Illinois came out organized and with a good game plan. We had to adjust a bit early on, but when we made that adjustment, the game definitely turned in our favor. We were able to build better, had possession and created good chances.”
“We didn’t put anything in the back of the net — we weren’t efficient in the 18-yard box, we shot early, we didn’t get the right runs into the box to produce the right service. But you have to look at the positive there as well — we were able to create those chances. We just have to be better with the delivery and in that last moment.”
“We have a lot to draw from today, and I think the performance of some of our younger players is definitely a positive. Molly put together a strong performance, was consistently aggressive in her debut. Peyton did a great job off the bench seeing some extended minutes. Cass entered, and she did a really good job setting the tempo and pressing to win the ball back. There’s a lot of little things we did well, now we have to build off today as we move towards Sunday.”
Valpo (0-0-1) opens the Brown Field regular season slate on Sunday afternoon when it hosts former Horizon League foe Youngstown State. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m., and the match can be seen live on ESPN+.