The Valpo soccer team made it two victories in as many matches to open the 2023 campaign on Sunday afternoon at a steamy Brown Field with a 1-0 win over Northern Illinois, courtesy of a header in the 61st minute from Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels). Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) posted her 20th career clean sheet in goal, moving her into a tie for second place in program history.
How It Happened
- While the first 45 minutes went by without either side denting the scoreboard, it wasn’t for a lack of trying as both squads had handfuls of scoring opportunities. Valpo’s best chance in the opening half came in the 19th minute — the Beacons found themselves with the numbers advantage in the box on a break. Allie Anderson (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South [Xavier]) ended up with the ball at her feet about 15 yards from goal, but her first shot was blocked by an NIU defender, while her effort on the rebound bent just left of goal.
- The Huskies took their best shot at opening the scoring in the 27th minute, on a break of their own. But Coryell came off her line well to make a sliding stop on a shot from Isabel Struble, and senior Aubrey Ramey (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School [DePaul]) followed up with a strong defensive play, getting her foot in for a big block on the attempted shot off the rebound.
- Valpo was able to withstand some NIU pressure early in the second half to keep it a 0-0 scoreline, and the Beacons then took advantage of a set piece in the 61st minute to put home what proved to be the game’s lone goal. Anderson took a corner kick from the right corner and hit a well-placed ball to the center of the box, at the edge of the six. Norfolk got above everyone for the header, and while NIU goalkeeper Sadie McGill was able to get a touch on it, she was unable to keep it out of the bottom-right corner as Valpo jumped on top.
- NIU pushed in search of the equalizer, but the Valpo defense was up to the task. The Huskies did get five shots off following Valpo’s goal, but Coryell made saves on both shots on goal and the Beacons also did not surrender a corner kick following their goal.
Inside the Match
- With two wins on opening weekend, Valpo opens a season 2-0-0 for the fourth time in program history. It’s the program’s first 2-0-0 start since 2017 and the first against a pair of Division I opponents since 2012.
- Valpo claimed its first win in program history over Northern Illinois on Sunday. Previously, NIU held an 8-0-1 advantage in the all-time series.
- Norfolk’s goal was the third of her Valpo career and her second career match-winner, as she tallied the decisive goal last season in the Beacon’s MVC win over UIC.
- With the assist on the match’s lone goal, Anderson found herself involved with all three goals on opening weekend (1g, 2a). She is the first Valpo player to have a three-point opening weekend since Sydney Griffin tallied two goals and one assist over the first two matches of the 2017 campaign.
- Anderson’s helper on Sunday was the 10th of her collegiate career, nine of which have come in her time at Valpo. She is just one assist shy of cracking the program’s top-10 for career assists.
- The three-time defending MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, Coryell was up to the task against a strong NIU attack on Sunday, making six saves to keep the clean sheet. The shutout was the 20th of her collegiate career, moving Coryell into a tie with Mele Cabral and Erin Murray for second-most in program history.
- Coryell also moved into a tie for eighth place in MVC history for career shutouts.
- Sunday’s clean sheet was the fourth time Coryell has made six or more saves in a clean sheet at Valpo.
- The Beacon defense has allowed one goal or fewer in 13 consecutive matches dating back to last season.
- Three days after making her collegiate debut, freshman Daisy Boardman (Warrington, England) earned her first career start, playing 58 minutes in the back. Fellow freshman Julianna De Simone (Elmhurst, Ill./York Community) appeared for the Beacons for the first time with 26 minutes of second-half action up top.
- NIU held a 14-10 advantage in shot attempts and put six shots on goal to Valpo’s five. Valpo earned six of the match’s nine corner kicks, however.
Thoughts From Head Coach John Marovich
“I’m really proud of our group today — to grind out a Sunday result, especially in today’s heat, every minute that each player gave was absolutely critical.”
“NIU posed some very good tactical questions today, and that allowed us to grow as a group. As a group, we came up with solutions and did that well in some good pockets of the game.”
“Set pieces are critical, and we had good intentionality and discipline in that moment to get a goal on the corner. We then did very well to see out the game in the final minutes.”
“With the second game of the weekend, we went deeper into our group today — got some players on who didn’t play on Thursday, others grew into heavier minutes. It really shows the depth of the group and the quality they have of being connected to one another. Everyone comes in, plays their role and does it really well.”
Valpo (2-0-0) aims for the first 3-0-0 start in program history on Thursday evening, as the Beacons start their weekend at Purdue. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. CT and the match can be seen live on BTN+.