The Valpo soccer team made it three wins in as many matches to start Missouri Valley Conference action this season, earning a 2-0 win on Brown Field over Drake Sunday.
How It Happened
- It was a slow start to the match for the Beacons, who struggled a bit to deal with how Drake was playing them early on. Valpo had just one shot attempt in the first 24 minutes, while the Bulldogs got four shot attempts off in that span — none of them were on target, however.
- A corner kick in the 25th minute resulted in three shots for Valpo in less than a minute’s time, and while none of them found the back of the net, the field started to tilt the other way at that point. Drake did not register another shot attempt in the remainder of the first half.
- Meanwhile, the Beacons went into halftime with a lead courtesy of a 36th-minute tally. Freshman Molly O’Rear (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) blocked a clearance attempt about 30 yards from goal, brought the ball down and got around a defender to the right edge of the six. O’Rear centered along the ground to sophomore Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton), who let a defender overrun her before redirecting the ball first-time with her right foot under the dive of Drake goalkeeper Vianey Lopez to open the scoring.
- The second half was more of the same, as Valpo went ahead 2-0 before Drake even recorded a shot. Senior Allie Anderson (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South [Xavier]) took a corner kick in the 61st minute and sent it toward the far side of the box. Fellow senior Natalie Graf (Williamsburg, Mich./St. Francis) got her head onto it from the edge of the six, out-leaping her marker and nodding it down into the ground, where it hopped up, off the post and into the back of the net.
- From that point, the result was academic, as Valpo dealt easily with the Bulldogs’ pressure over the final stretch. Drake’s lone shot on goal came with less than a minute to play, an effort from distance rolled along the ground and easily dealt with by goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley).
Inside the Match
- Valpo improved to 3-0-0 in MVC play with its third straight victory to open the conference schedule.
- It is the seventh time in program history Valpo has opened league play with nine points from its first three matches — each of the previous six such squads have finished no worse than second in the final conference standings.
- This year’s team joins last season’s side as the only two in program history to open conference play with three consecutive clean sheets.
- Combined with the Beacons’ 4-0 win over UIC last time out on Thursday, Valpo won back-to-back matches by multiple goals — the first time the program has done so within league play since September 2015 (6-0 at Youngstown State, 3-1 versus UIC).
- Sunday’s result was the first home win for Valpo in program history over Drake (1-2-1).
- Joiner’s goal was her team-high third of the season and the sixth of her collegiate career. She recorded the match-winner for the second time in her time at Valpo, while this also marked the second time she has scored in back-to-back fixtures.
- O’Rear has recorded assists in back-to-back matches, both of which came on match-winning goals.
- For Graf, it was her fourth career goal, but her first since being converted to a center back. The senior’s last goal came back on April 7, 2021.
- Anderson is tied for team-high honors with three assists this season.
- As previously mentioned, Coryell had to make just the one save to record the shutout on Sunday. Her third straight clean sheet, Coryell owns five on the season and 17 in her career. Coryell and the Valpo defense have posted clean sheets in nine of the team’s last 12 MVC regular season matches.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“Overall, I’m still just proud of this group. Every MVC match is going to be hard, going to be a battle. We found a couple of goals today — Addy got another goal off some nice buildup from Molly, and then we were able to take advantage of a set piece for our second.”
“I thought we were a bit off, a bit disjointed for much of the first half. We were letting some Drake players run into spaces we didn’t want them in. We weren’t super clean, and our spacing when we would win the ball was off.”
“We had a conversation at half about cleaning up some of our foundational pieces, process-oriented items in both our attack and our defending to see the game out. One highlight was the work of Peyton and Abbey in the second half — they did a good job in being on two different lines, and it really allowed them to take the flank. They executed exactly what we discussed at halftime. The whole group turned those details around, and it resulted in a really good second half.”
“As the match went along, we figured ourselves out. We found what would be successful on this day, and that’s the mark of a really good side.”
Valpo (4-5-2, 3-0-0 MVC) has a mid-week bye this week, as each MVC team will have one bye out of the 11 matchdays within the conference schedule this season. The Beacons return to action next Sunday with a challenging road fixture at Missouri State. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. and the match can be seen live on ESPN3.