Valparaiso (1-0-1, 0-0-0 MVC)
Friday, Aug. 26 - at Colorado (2-0-0) - 5 p.m. CT
Sunday, Aug. 28 - at Northern Colorado (1-0-1) - 1 p.m. CT
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: With an unbeaten weekend of action behind it to open the 2022 campaign, the Valpo soccer team faces a challenging weekend upcoming as it heads west to the Centennial State. The Beacons will take on Pac-12 foe Colorado on Friday evening before turning around to play at Northern Colorado on Sunday afternoon.
Previously: Valpo did not concede a goal in its first two matches of the season, opening the campaign with a scoreless draw at Eastern Illinois before coming home and taking a 1-0 win over Youngstown State behind a second-half goal from Kiley Dugan.
Looking Ahead: Next weekend sees the Beacons return home to Brown Field to host Chicago State on Friday night, Sept. 2 before playing their final non-conference road match Sunday, Sept. 4 at Ball State.
Following the Beacons: The Colorado match will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network, while the Northern Colorado match 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 114-105-39 (.517) 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: Colorado - First meeting. Also the first meeting against any current Pac-12 program.
Northern Colorado - The two programs have met just once previously, a 2-1 win for the Bears in Valpo on Sept. 5, 2003. Emily King leveled the match for Valpo in the 41st minute, but Jessica Brennan scored the match-winner for UNC in the 74th minute.
Scouting the Opposition: Colorado - The Buffaloes posted an 8-7-4 record last season and have been picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 this year. Colorado got off to a strong offensive start to the season, beating Weber State 5-0 and San Diego 5-1 on opening weekend. Shyra James was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week as she scored three goals over the two victories.
Northern Colorado - Coming off a 10-8-2 record in 2021, the Bears were picked to win the Big Sky this season in the conference preseason poll. UNC enjoyed an unbeaten opening weekend of play, winning 2-0 over Wyoming and battling to a 1-1 draw with Kansas State.
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.
New Season, Same Weekly Honors: It’s become a habit for Valpo to pick up weekly awards from the MVC over the last few seasons, and that continued after opening weekend as goalkeeper Nikki Coryell was named the MVC Defensive Player of the Week after posting a pair of clean sheets. Coryell, whose four saves included a diving effort in the final seconds to preserve the 0-0 draw at EIU, is now tied for fourth in program history with 14 career shutouts and is just one clean sheet away from becoming the 18th player in MVC history with 15 or more clean sheets.
Coryell has now been named MVC Defensive Player of the Week five times, tying her with Kelsie James (two Offensive, three Freshman) for the second-most prolific weekly award winner in program history, trailing only Lori Moore (1999-2002), who was a six-time Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week. Valpo has had at least one MVC weekly award winner in seven of the last eight weeks of regular season play dating back to last year and has 16 weekly award recipients since the start of the spring 2021 campaign.
Dugan and James Team Up: The pair of Kiley Dugan and Kelsie James teamed up for Valpo’s match-winner Sunday against Youngstown State. Dugan finished off the move with the goal in the 74th minute ‑ her third career tally, first since March 19, 2021 and her first career match-winner. Meanwhile, James picked up the assist - the seventh of her career, five of which have come on match-winning goals.
Opening Weekend Minutiae: Valpo is unbeaten through its first two matches of the year for the fourth time in the last six seasons - all three prior years (2017, 2018, spring 2021) saw Valpo lose its third match. The Beacons posted consecutive clean sheets to open the season for the third time in program history (2012, 2017) and are in search of three straight shutouts to open the year for the first time. Valpo’s draw with Eastern Illinois was its first draw in a season opener in the 30-season history of the program and came in the first match under the new protocol for no extra time in the regular season.
The First Time: Freshman Molly O’Rear was the lone Beacon to make her debut in a Valpo uniform in the season opener at EIU, as she started and played all 90 minutes. Against YSU, sophomore Sam Gountounas made her first career start, while freshman Sarah Epstein came off the bench for her collegiate debut and transfer Andrea Garcia saw her first regular season action at Valpo.
Coming Home: A pair of Valpo players return to their home state this weekend as the Beacons visit the Centennial State. Sophomore Peyton Evans hails from Parker, while fellow sophomore Lauren Cook is a native of Littleton.
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.
Always in the XI: Three players started all 18 matches for Valpo a season ago: Kiley Dugan, Nicole Norfolk and Abby White. All three started both matches on opening weekend as well. In their fourth season in the Valpo uniform, Dugan and Norfolk have both started all 52 matches since stepping on campus.