Valparaiso (2-1-1, 0-0-0 MVC)
Thursday, Aug. 31 - Chicago State (1-2-0) - 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 3 - at Purdue Fort Wayne (2-2-0) - noon CT
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: Revenge is on the mind for the Valpo soccer program this week, as the Beacons face a pair of opponents they fell to last season. The Beacons will make a brief stop back at Brown Field for the final home fixture of the nonconference slate as Chicago State stops by Thursday evening. Valpo then heads to Purdue Fort Wayne for a Sunday afternoon kickoff.
Previously: Facing a pair of power conference foes on the road last week, Valpo fell 4-1 at Purdue Thursday night before rebounding with a 1-1 draw at Kentucky on Sunday afternoon.
Looking Ahead: Valpo’s stretch of five consecutive matches away from home continues next weekend with the Beacons’ final two matches before the start of conference play, as they play at Youngstown State and at Eastern Michigan.
Following the Beacons: Both matches this week will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Links for the live video and live stats can be found at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach John Marovich: In his 16th season at the helm of the Valpo program, John Marovich holds a 123-113-43 (.518) record both overall and at Valpo as a head coach. The 2014 Horizon League Coach of the Year and the head of the 2022 MVC Coaching Staff of the Year, Marovich holds Valpo’s all-time records for both victories and winning percentage.
Series Notes: Chicago State - Valpo owns a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series over Chicago State, but the Cougars’ win in the series came last season on Brown Field as they came away with a 2-1 victory.
Purdue Fort Wayne - Valpo is 13-5-1 in program history against the Mastodons in a series which has been played all but three seasons since 2001. But despite the Beacons’ edge all-time, it has been Purdue Fort Wayne with wins in the last three matchups, including a 1-0 win on Brown Field last season.
Scouting the Opposition: Chicago State - The Cougars come to Valpo Thursday evening with a 1-2-0 record on the season, beating Purdue Fort Wayne (1-0) before falling to Western Illinois (1-0) and Lindenwood (4-2). Jacqueline Tamayo has netted all three goals this season for CSU.
Purdue Fort Wayne - The Mastodons have split both weekends of play to start the 2023 campaign, rebounding from the Chicago State loss with a 7-0 win over Saint Francis (Ind.) on opening weekend. Last weekend, Purdue Fort Wayne fell 2-1 at SIUE and won 1-0 at Southern Indiana. Rylee Vruggink has tallied two goals and three assists.
Valpo Picked Second in Preseason Poll: The Beacons were chosen to finish in second place in preseason polling of the MVC head coaches. Valpo, which picked up one first-place vote and tallied 107 points in the polling, trailed only Missouri State in the voting. The Beacons far outpaced third-place UIC, which totaled 92 points. Notably, 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 is regarded as one of the Valley’s top programs, and four of them were honored with preseason All-MVC accolades. Fifth-year Nicole Norfolk joined seniors Lindsey DuSatko and Nikki Coryell as preseason First Team All-MVC selections, while junior Addy Joiner picked up Honorable Mention accolades.
Looking Back at Last Season: Valpo’s journey up the MVC table over the last few years culminated last season with a dramatic final day of the regular season which saw the Beacons emerge with the MVC regular season championship - Valpo’s first team title in any sport since joining the Valley. The Beacons finished the season with an 8-7-4 overall record, including a 7-1-2 mark in MVC action to claim the regular season crown. Nikki Coryell was named MVC Goalkeeper of the Year for a third straight season, while John Marovich, Brianne Barnes and Noah Smith were honored as the Valley Coaching Staff of the Year. Nicole Norfolk was named a Third Team All-Region honoree as well.
Regular Season Champions: Trailing by two points entering the final match day, Valpo needed a win and some help to earn the 2022 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 was 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.
Who’s Back and Who’s New: Valpo returns 18 letterwinners, including nine starters, from last year’s squad which claimed the MVC regular season title. The returnees accounted for 16 of the Beacon’s 19 goals and 17 of their 18 assists in Valley play last season. 11 newcomers round out the 2023 roster - nine incoming freshmen, one transfer and one redshirt.
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 in the fall of 2021 before claiming the regular season crown last fall.
A Power Result: Valpo’s 1-1 draw against Kentucky on Sunday was the program’s first-ever positive result against an SEC program. It was the program’s first positive result against a power conference program since a 1-0 win over Northwestern in 2013.
Staying Perfect at Home: Valpo looks to improve to 3-0-0 at home on Thursday as it hosts Chicago State. With a victory over the Cougars, Valpo would be perfect at home through three matches for the first time since the 2017 squad opened its home slate with five straight wins.
A Long Road Stretch: Following their Thursday night match, the Beacons are on the road for five consecutive true road matches, as it will be 28 days between home games on Brown Field. It is just the third time in the last 22 seasons that Valpo will play five straight road matches - the last instance coming in a similar time frame in 2017, when the program closed the preconference schedule with four road matches and then opened MVC play on the road.
Heading Home the Goals: Fifth-year defender Nicole Norfolk has earned numerous plaudits for her work at center back for Valpo, but she’s gotten the job done in the attacking area so far this season. Norfolk, who entered the season with two career goals, has doubled that total with goals in back-to-back matches - a header off a corner for the match-winner against NIU and a header off a set piece at Purdue. She is the first Beacon with goals in two straight matches since Addy Joiner scored at Belmont and at Murray State last season. All four of Norfolk’s career goals have been headers, three of which have come on corner kicks.
New Season, Same Goal Scorer: Junior Addy Joiner was Valpo’s leading goal scorer a season ago with seven goals and opened her 2023 account in the fourth match of the season, giving Valpo the early lead in its eventual draw at Kentucky on Sunday. It was Joiner’s 11th career goal, but her first as a member of the starting lineup since scoring in the MVC Tournament against Evansville in November 2021.
Easy as 1, 2, 3: Fifth-year midfielder Allie Anderson was involved in all three goals on opening weekend and was honored as the MVC Offensive Player of the Week for her performances. Anderson began with the assist on the opening goal against Eastern Illinois on Thursday, and then early in the second half headed home her first collegiate goal for what eventually became the match-winner. She followed on Sunday with a well-taken corner kick for the assist on the lone goal in Valpo’s 1-0 win over Northern Illinois. Anderson has now racked up 10 assists in her collegiate career. Nine of those helpers have come at Valpo, leaving her just one assist shy of cracking the program’s career top-10 chart in the category.
Just Another Player of the Week: It’s become like clockwork to expect a conference Player of the Week announcement for the Valpo soccer program late Tuesday mornings. Anderson picked up her first career weekly award from the MVC office, joining a long list of players on this year’s Beacon roster who have received accolades. In all, 10 players on the 2023 squad have combined for 22 MVC weekly accolades since the start of the spring 2021 campaign.
Showcasing Versatility: It’s not every day that a left back gets upon to fill in at striker, but with injuries up front for the Beacons, junior Sam Gountounas did just that on opening weekend. Gountounas started both matches at the 9 for Valpo, and the move immediately paid dividends in the season opener versus Eastern Illinois, as she found the back of the net 35 minutes into the match for her second career goal.
Making Debuts: Five players have made their first appearances in the Valpo uniform this season, four of those collegiate debuts. DePaul transfer Aubrey Ramey started and played all 90 minutes at right back in both matches on opening weekend, tallying an assist in the opener against Eastern Illinois. Freshman Anna Cup also played all 180 minutes on opening weekend, slotting in immediately at center back. Freshman Daisy Boardman debuted with a 55-minute stint off the bench against EIU and then made her first collegiate start against NIU, going 58 minutes. Freshman Julianna De Simone saw her first collegiate action with a 26-minute shift on the front line versus NIU. Most recently, freshman Eve Miller made her collegiate debut with 20 minutes off the bench at Purdue last Thursday.
Three-Time Goalkeeper of the Year: Senior goalkeeper Nikki Coryell has quite simply been the Valley’s top goalkeeper throughout her career, as she has been honored as the MVC Goalkeeper of the Year in each of her three seasons. Last season, Coryell posted an 8-5-4 record with a 0.91 GAA and an .800 save percentage, posting seven clean sheets. Coryell and the Valpo defense surrendered just five goals in 10 MVC matches last season and posted five shutouts - matching the program record for the most clean sheets within conference play in a single season. In her three Goalkeeper of the Year campaigns, Coryell has posted a cumulative GAA of 0.59 and a save percentage of .878 in conference play. In 26 MVC fixtures, she holds a 16-4-6 record and has recorded 14 shutouts, giving up one goal or fewer in 25 of those 26 matches.
Running Up Top: Senior forward Lindsey DuSatko enters the 2023 campaign having earned All-Conference honors in each of the last two seasons, as she was a Second Team honoree in 2021 and a First Team choice last season. The pacey forward was tied for second among Valley players with four assists in MVC-only play in 2022, picking up a helper apiece in four of Valpo’s regular season conference wins, and scored a goal as well. DuSatko assisted on the match-winning goal in the Beacons’ win at Murray State and scored the game-tying goal in Valpo’s draw with Southern Illinois.
Locking Down the Back Line: Fifth-year center back Nicole Norfolk has been the linchpin in the Valpo defense ever since stepping onto campus prior to the 2019 season. The stalwart in the back was a First Team All-MVC honoree in 2022 after earning Second Team recognition the previous year. Valpo’s record holder for consecutive minutes played by a field player, Norfolk played all but 14 minutes of Valpo’s first 15 matches of the 2022 season before suffering an injury in mid-October. With Norfolk on the field during Valley regular season play, Valpo surrendered just one goal in 544 minutes of play. Norfolk added Third Team All-Midwest Region honors to her resume as well last season.
Joiner Just Keeps Scoring: Junior forward Addy Joiner was more than just a spark off the bench in 2022 - she was an assassin in front of goal. A First Team All-MVC honoree, Joiner finished the regular season with a Valley-high seven goals on the year and eventually concluded the season in second place with her seven tallies. 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 were the most by a Valpo player in league action since Jackie Kondratko netted six goals in Horizon League matches in 2009.
Wait, There’s More!: The aforementioned four First Team All-MVC honorees from a season ago represent just over half of the total number of honorees from last season’s regular season champions. Fifth-year midfielder Allie Anderson picked up Second Team All-MVC recognition in 2022, while junior left back Abby White was a Third Team All-MVC choice. Sophomore Molly O’Rear rounds out last year’s award winners, as she claimed a spot on the MVC All-Freshman Team.
Even More on Last Year’s Awards: Valpo’s four First Team honorees in 2022 set a program record for postseason honors, as the program previously boasted three First Team All-League recipients on three occasions. The Beacons have had multiple First Team All-MVC honorees each of the last three seasons, and also have had at least one representative on the MVC All-Freshman Team in each of their six seasons in the conference.