Valparaiso (8-6-4, 7-1-2 MVC)
MVC Semifinal - Brown Field
Thursday, Nov. 3 - Murray State (6-11-3, 3-5-2 MVC) - 6 p.m.
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: After claiming a historic MVC regular season title, the Valpo soccer team will host the semifinals and title match of the 2022 MVC Women’s Soccer Championship at Brown Field this week. First up for the Beacons is a semifinal matchup against eighth-seeded Murray State at 6 p.m. Thursday evening.
Previously: Valpo took four points from the final week of conference regular season play, capped by a 4-0 win over Indiana State Sunday, Oct. 23 which, when combined with Illinois State’s win over Missouri State, propelled the Beacons to the top of the MVC table.
Looking Ahead: The tournament title match will be held on Brown Field at 1 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 6. The winner of that fixture will earn the MVC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Following the Beacons: All three of the MVC Championship matches from Brown Field, including Valpo’s semifinal Thursday at 6 p.m., will be broadcast live on ESPN+. In addition, Valpo will have a radio broadcast on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Links for the live video, audio and stats will be available via ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: In his 15th season at the helm of the Valpo program, John Marovich holds a 121-111-42 (.518) 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 is 5-1-0 all-time against the Racers, but the first five of the six matchups in the series came in a stretch between 2000 and 2007. In their first meetings as MVC foes this season, the Beacons came away with a 2-1 road victory. After falling behind 1-0 in the 20th minute, Addy Joiner equalized in the 28th minute off an Allie Anderson corner kick. The decisive sequence came early in the second half, as Nikki Coryell saved a penalty kick in the 50th minute, and less than a minute later, Abby White scored off a feed from Lindsey DuSatko on a counter following Murray State’s ensuing corner kick. Valpo withstood 12 corner kicks from the Racers in that matchup, while Coryell made seven saves - her highest total in an MVC match this season.
Scouting the Opposition: The Racers come into the MVC semifinal at 6-11-3 overall this year and went 3-5-2 in regular season conference action to earn the final berth into the tournament. MSU beat Drake in the opening round, 1-0 on a 76th minute goal by Morgan Bodker, to avenge a defeat four days earlier in the regular season finale. The Racers fell behind host Southern Illinois on Sunday in second-round action on a 32nd minute goal, but rallied to level the match through Mary Hardy in the 80th minute and then claimed the 2-1 win on a Saraya Young goal in the final minute of extra time. Young leads all Valley players with 15 points this season, including a conference-best seven assists, while Hardy and Sydney Etter each have four goals and two assists.
Valpo in the MVC Championship: While Valpo has been very successful in Valley action the last three years, the program is looking to turn around its historical fortune in the conference tournament. Valpo is 1-7-1 in MVC Championship action (including its time in the 1990s as an affiliate member in the sport) and has been knocked out in its first tournament match in six of its seven tournament appearances. The lone exception was the spring 2021 tournament, which saw Valpo advance on PKs after a 0-0 draw with Evansville and then win at Indiana State in extra time, 1-0, to go to the title match before falling 1-0 at Loyola. Last season, Valpo earned the double bye to the tournament semifinals, but dropped a 2-1 decision in extra time to Evansville.
Regular Season Champions: Trailing by two points entering the final match day, Valpo needed a win and some help to earn the MVC regular season title, and got both. Molly O’Rear’s goal in the 36th minute against Indiana State not only gave the Beacons a lead they would not surrender, it put Valpo atop the live conference table for good, as Illinois State led Missouri State at that point, 2-0, en route to a 4-2 win. For Valpo, it is the program’s fourth regular season conference championship. Valpo previously won Mid-Continent Conference regular season crowns in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and 2006, and posted a perfect record to claim the 2014 Horizon League regular season title.
Hosting Tournament Action: Valpo’s two regular season titles in the Mid-Con days came when the conference had predetermined sites for its tournament final rounds, meaning that this year marks just the second time Valpo will host the decisive rounds of a league tournament. When Valpo did so in 2014, it defeated Green Bay (2-0) and Detroit (1-0) to win the Horizon League tournament title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. This will be just the second MVC Championship match Valpo has hosted, the only other one being the scoreless draw against Evansville in the opening round of the spring 2021 tournament which resulted in Valpo advancing on PKs.
Incremental Improvement: Since finishing joint sixth in the MVC table and missing out on the conference tournament via tiebreaker during the 2018 season, Valpo has improved its position in the final Valley standings each of the next four seasons. Valpo closed out the regular season in fifth place in 2019, finished tied for third in the spring of 2021 and were regular season runners-up last fall before claiming the regular season crown this fall.
Joiner Just Keeps Scoring: Sophomore Addy Joiner has been more than just a spark off the bench this season - she’s been an assassin in front of goal. Joiner finished the regular season with an MVC-best seven goals on the year - all of which have come as a reserve. The two-time MVC Offensive Player of the Week scored six of her seven goals in Valley play, one apiece in six of Valpo’s seven MVC Victories. Her six goals in conference play are the most by a Valpo player in league action since Jackie Kondratko netted six goals in Horizon League matches in 2009. Three of Joiner’s goals came in consecutive matches against Evansville, Belmont and Murray State ‑ the first Valpo player to score in back-to-back-to-back fixtures since Cory Griffith tallied goals in the last three matches of the 2017 season.
O’Rear Keeps Pushing: Freshman Molly O’Rear has established herself immediately in Valpo’s attack as a presence and made a huge impact on the Beacons’ success in MVC play. O’Rear scored match-winning goals against UNI and Evansville, while her goal at Belmont leveled that match at 1-1 and her goal against Indiana State gave Valpo a lead it would not relinquish. All 10 of O’Rear’s points (4g, 2a) came within MVC play, fourth-best in the conference within MVC matches.
Top-10 Placements: A trio of Beacons have cracked into the top-10 of various record book charts this season. Junior goalkeeper Nikki Coryell earned the 19th clean sheet of her career Oct. 9 against Evansville, tied for 10th-most in MVC history, while junior Kelsie James picked up her 10th career assist in that match, which is tied for sixth-most in Valpo history. Senior Allie Anderson’s corner kick led to Joiner’s goal at Murray State for her team-high fifth assist of the season - tied for fourth in a single season in program history. James matched Anderson with five assists on the season as well to crack Valpo’s single-season chart, as her corner was put away by Lindsey DuSatko for the match-tying goal against Southern Illinois.
Knocking Home Goals: This year’s Valpo side is the most prolific on the attack within Valley play since Valpo joined the MVC, finding the back of the net on 19 occasions - the highest-scoring league campaign in program history. Valpo, which led the Valley in goals scored in conference-only play, won four times by two goals or more - the program’s most since winning by multiple goals on four occasions in the Horizon League in 2009.
Limiting the Opposition: While the attack was on point, so was the Beacons’ defensive unit within MVC play. Valpo surrendered just five goals in its 10 MVC matches and posted five clean sheets - matching the program record for the most clean sheets within conference play in a single season. Last year’s side also registered five shutouts, while the 2011 and 2014 Valpo teams both blanked five Horizon League foes. Valpo, which led the conference in fewest goals allowed in MVC play as well, did not surrender more than one goal in any of its 10 MVC matches and has surrendered more than one goal just once in their last 27 MVC regular season matches, a stretch which includes 14 clean sheets.
Coryell Stands Out In Goal: Junior goalkeeper Nikki Coryell enjoyed another tremendous conference campaign in goal, leading the Valley in conference-only play in both GAA (0.50) and save percentage (.881) while not surrendering more than one goal in any of the Beacons’ 10 MVC fixtures. The two-time reigning MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, Coryell is just one clean sheet away from moving into a tie for second place in Valpo career history in the category. Among her saves in conference play were a penalty save in the waning minutes against Evansville to preserve a clean sheet and a penalty save at Murray State which led directly to the eventual match-winning goal.
A Historic Honor: Coryell was tabbed MVC Goalkeeper of the Week Sept. 26 for her pair of shutouts against UIC and Drake, 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: The Beacons claimed seven weekly honors from the MVC office this season. In addition to the pair of awards apiece for Joiner and Coryell, Molly O’Rear (Sept. 20, Freshman), Nicole Norfolk (Sept. 26, Defensive) and Abbey Hillman (Oct. 10, Defensive) have been recognized by the conference this year.
Conference Success: Valpo has built on its success within conference play over the last few seasons. Since the start of the spring 2021 campaign, the Beacons are 16-4-6 within regular season MVC matches - a mark which improves to 16-2-6 with the removal of the two Loyola matches.
A Great Start: Valpo earned all nine points with three victories in its first three MVC fixtures, something which has been a good omen in the past and proved to be a good omen again this year. This year’s side was 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 seven sides to start with at least three straight wins finished no worse than second in the final conference standings, including four conference regular season titles.
Streak Comes to an End: Senior center back Nicole Norfolk started each of the first 65 matches of her collegiate career since arriving at Valpo for the 2019 season, but suffered an injury in the opening minutes on Oct. 13 at Belmont. Norfolk, who had been off the field for just 91 minutes total over her four seasons prior to that injury, then did not feature Oct. 16 at Murray State, snapping her starting streak.
Always in the XI: Only two players have started all 18 matches for Valpo this season: Kiley Dugan and Natalie Graf. Allie Anderson had started each of this season’s first 17 matches, but was forced to the sidelines due to injury for the regular season finale. In her fourth season in the Valpo uniform, Dugan has started all 68 matches since stepping on campus.
Valpo Picked Atop Preseason Poll: The Beacons were 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, with the regular season title, the program has matched or surpassed its preseason projection in each of its first six seasons in the Valley.
Quartet of Preseason Honorees: Plenty of individual standouts have helped Valpo get to the point where it earned the spot as the preseason Valley favoirte, 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.
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.
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.