Valparaiso (4-5-2, 3-0-0 MVC)
Sunday, Oct. 2 - at Missouri State (6-4-2, 3-0-1 MVC) - 1 p.m.
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: Winners of each of its first three MVC matches, the Valpo soccer team finds itself in an early battle for the top of the table on Sunday afternoon as the Beacons make the journey to Springfield, Mo. to face off with Missouri State.
Previously: Valpo extended its winning streak to three straight matches with a pair of clean sheets, shutting out UIC (4-0) and Drake (2-0). The Beacons had a bye on this week’s mid-week match day.
Looking Ahead: Valpo plays on the road again next Thursday, taking on Illinois State, before returning home on Sunday, Oct. 9 to host Evansville.
Following the Beacons: Sunday’s match will be broadcast on ESPN3. 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 117-110-40 (.513) 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: Valpo trails the all-time series against Missouri State by a 3-4-1 mark, but the Beacons hold the 3-1-1 edge since joining the MVC prior to the 2017 campaign. Valpo has earned 2-1 victories over the Bears in back-to-back seasons, most recently downing Missouri State in Springfield last October. Lindsey DuSatko and Kelsie James each scored within the first 18 minutes of that match and Nikki Coryell made seven saves in goal to help Valpo take all three points.
Scouting the Opposition: Missouri State enters Sunday’s showdown atop the MVC table with 10 points through its first four Valley fixtures, sitting at 6-4-2 overall and 3-0-1 in MVC play. Most recently, the Bears earned a 2-0 win at Southern Illinois on Thursday courtesy of a pair of second-half goals from Hailey Chambliss. Joey Fosnow owns a team-high three goals and seven points on the season, while Camielle Day has played the majority of time in goal and owns a 0.99 GAA.
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.
A Great Start: Valpo has taken all nine points with three victories in its first three MVC fixtures, something which has been a good omen in the past. This year’s side is the seventh in program history to start conference play at least 3-0-0, as Valpo did so four times in the Mid-Continent Conference, once in the Horizon League and last season in the Valley. All six previous sides to start with at least three straight wins finished no worse than second in the final conference standings, including three conference regular season titles. Notably, however, none of those six seasons contained more than eight conference matches - this season, Valpo will play 10 conference matches.
Four (Or More): A win on Sunday would mark the fourth time in program history Valpo has opened conference action with at least four straight wins. The 2005 side won its first four matches and finished 4-2-0 to share the Mid-Con regular season title. Last year, the Beacons won five in a row to open MVC play on its way to a 6-1-1 record and second-place finish. Finally, the 2014 squad went a perfect 8-0-0 and claimed the Horizon League regular season championship.
A Big Win: The floodgates opened for the Beacons last Thursday against UIC, as Nicole Norfolk, Addy Joiner, Abby White and Sam Gountounas all found the back of the net in a 4-0 victory over the Flames. The win marked the first time Valpo had scored four or more goals in a conference match and the first time it had won a conference fixture by four goals since a 5-1 win over Indiana State on Oct. 25, 2018. It was the first time the program won a conference game by four goals in a game which finished 11 on 11 since October 2000.
Winning by Multiple Goals: Valpo followed up the four-goal triumph over UIC with a 2-0 win last Sunday over Drake, as Joiner and Natalie Graf struck for goals. It was the first time Valpo has won consecutive matches in conference play by multiple goals since September 2015, when it earned a 6-0 win at Youngstown State and a 3-1 win versus UIC.
Back to Back: For the second time in her career, sophomore Addy Joiner scored in consecutive matches for the Beacons last week. She was responsible for the first insurance tally in the 4-0 win over UIC before connecting on the eventual match-winner late in the first half against Drake - her second career match-winning goal. For her efforts, Joiner was named the MVC Offensive Player of the Week.
Keeping Clean Sheets: Valpo has shut out the opposition in each of its first three Valley matches - last year’s team did so as well, but that’s the only other time in program history the Beacons have kept clean sheets through their first three conference games. Nikki Coryell has made 10 saves to earn those three shutouts, giving her five total on the season and 17 for her career, tying her for 15th in MVC history. Valpo has now posted shutouts in nine of its last 12 MVC regular season matches.
A Historic Honor: Coryell was tabbed MVC Goalkeeper of the Week for her pair of shutouts last week, her second weekly award of the season from the conference office and the sixth of her career. With six weekly awards, Coryell is now tied with Lori Moore (six-time Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week) as the most prolific weekly award winner in program history.
Winning Weekly Awards: Valpo actually claimed three weekly awards last week, as Nicole Norfolk was recognized as MVC Defensive Player of the Week for her work in the clean sheets. It is the first time the soccer program has claimed a trio of weekly awards from the conference office since its debut weekend as a full-fledged MVC member in August 2017. The Beacons have now earned a total of five weekly awards this season, as Molly O’Rear was honored as MVC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 20 as well.
A Memorable First Goal: Freshman Molly O’Rear picked quite the time to find the back of the net for the first time in her collegiate career, striking in the 87th minute to give Valpo the 1-0 win at UNI. It was a well-deserved goal for the rookie, who has been dangerous on the attack all season long.
Here For the Drama: O’Rear’s match-winner was the latest match-winner in regulation by a Valpo player since Kelsey Jahn struck at 89:33 in the 2017 MVC opener at Missouri State.
Looking For Conference Success: With MVC play under way, Valpo is looking to build on its success within conference play over the last two seasons. Since the start of the spring 2021 campaign, the Beacons are 12-3-4 within regular season MVC matches - a mark which improves to 12-1-4 with the removal of the two Loyola matches.
Turn The Tide: With the nonconference behind them, the Beacons can look to last year’s side as a model for how to get things going in the right direction with the start of MVC action. The 2021 Valpo squad was just 3-4-1 in nonconference play before ripping off wins in each of its first five MVC matches en route to a 6-1-1 conference record. In fact, in each of the last three seasons, Valpo has posted a better winning percentage in MVC play than in its preconference schedule.
National Recognition: Senior Kiley Dugan and junior Kelsie James both earned preseason recognition on a national level, as both were named preseason Players to Watch by United Soccer Coaches. The preseason Players to Watch lists were 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 included United Soccer Coaches All-Americans and first or second team All-Region players from 2021 who are scheduled to return for the 2022 season.
Always in the XI: Four players have started all nine matches for Valpo this season: Allie Anderson, Kiley Dugan, Natalie Graf and Nicole Norfolk. In their fourth season in the Valpo uniform, Dugan and Norfolk have both started all 61 matches since stepping on campus.