Valparaiso (4-2-2, 0-0-0 MVC)
Thursday, Sept. 21 - at Evansville (0-3-4, 0-0-1 MVC) - 6 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 24 - at Indiana State (1-2-6, 0-0-1 MVC) - noon CT
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: The road to defending the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship begins this weekend for Valpo, as the Beacons open Valley play with a pair of road matches against their in-state foes: Thursday evening at Evansville and Sunday afternoon at Indiana State.
Previously: Valpo’s last weekend of nonconference action featured a 2-0 win at Youngstown State and a 1-1 draw at Eastern Michigan. The Beacons had a bye on the first match day of the MVC schedule.
Looking Ahead: Valpo returns home for the first time in nearly a month next weekend, welcoming Missouri State (Sept. 28) and Murray State (Oct. 1) to Brown Field.
Following the Beacons: Both of this weekend’s matches 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 125-114-44 (.519) 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: Evansville - One of Valpo’s most common opponents of all time, the Purple Aces hold an 11-5-4 advantage in the all-time series. But Valpo has had the better of the series of late, with a 3-1-2 edge since the start of the 2019 campaign. One of those three wins came in last season’s meeting, a 3-0 Beacons win on Brown Field on Oct. 9. Molly O’Rear’s goal in the 26th minute was the eventual match-winner that day, while Addy Joiner and Abbey Hillman added insurance tallies. Nikki Coryell made four saves in that match to earn the shutout.
Indiana State - Valpo owns a commanding 13-3-2 lead in the all-time series over the Sycamores, including a 6-1-0 advantage since joining the Valley. The Beacons carry a W4 streak into Sunday’s fixture, including a 4-1 win on Brown Field on Oct. 23 last season in the regular season finale which helped Valpo clinch the MVC regular season title. Molly O’Rear and Addy Joiner netted Valpo’s first two goals, with Andrea Garcia adding a brace to finish things off.
Scouting the Opposition: Evansville - The Purple Aces enter Thursday’s match at 0-3-4 on the season, with a draw in their MVC opener against Illinois State thanks to an 82nd minute goal from Amy Velazquez - UE’s first goal of the season. Myia Danek has seen most of the action in goal and owns a 1.08 GAA and an .811 save percentage.
Indiana State - The Sycamores come into the week at 1-2-6 overall and played to a scoreless draw at Belmont in their MVC opener. Maddie Helling has scored a team-best two of ISU’s six goals on the season, while Maddie Alexander owns a 0.94 GAA and an .822 save percentage in goal.
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.
Defense Stands Tall: Valpo’s success in conference play the last few years starts in the back with the strong play of three-time MVC Goalkeeper of the Year Nikki Coryell and the Beacons’ defense. Last season’s championship side surrendered just five goals in 10 Valley regular season matches and did not give up more than one goal in any conference fixture. In fact, dating back to the start of the spring 2021 campaign, Valpo has surrendered one goal or fewer in 25 out of 26 MVC matches - the lone exception being the fall 2021 regular season finale at Loyola.
Strong Nonconference Record: With their win at Youngstown State and draw at Eastern Michigan, the Beacons finished nonconference play with a 4-2-2 record. This year’s side is the first Valpo team to finish above .500 in nonconference action since the 2017 squad went 6-5-0 outside of Valley play. It is the program’s best nonconference record since going 4-1-4 in 2014.
A Long Road Stretch: This weekend’s pair of matches conclude a stretch of five consecutive true road matches for hte Beacons, 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 plays 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.
A Lengthy Respite: Valpo enters its MVC opener against Evansville on Thursday evening coming off a lengthy break, as due to its bye on the first match day of the conference slate, the Beacons will go 11 days between matches. The 11 days between fixtures is the longest stretch between regular season matches in program history.
Joiner Just Keeps Scoring: One season after pacing Valpo in the goal-scoring department, junior Addy Joiner has continued her prolificacy in 2023. She netted just the eighth hat trick in program history on August 31 against Chicago State, and eight days later found the back of the net again for the eventual match-winner at Youngstown State. Joiner has scored a team-high five goals this year, tied for second in the Valley, and has 15 career goals to rank tied for eighth in program history.
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 on a seemingly weekly basis the last few years. Joiner was named MVC Offensive Player of the Week following her Chicago State hat trick, Valpo’s second honoree this year after Allie Anderson earned the same award following three goal involvements on opening weekend. In all, 10 players on the 2023 squad have combined for 23 MVC weekly accolades since the start of the spring 2021 campaign.
Scoring and Creating: Senior Lindsey DuSatko entered the August 31 match versus Chicago State without a point on the season and having never been involved in multiple goals in the same match in her career. Fast-forward four matches, she ranks second on the team with seven points, having tallied two goals and three assists in that stretch. DuSatko assisted on the opening goal and then scored on the eventual match-winner versus Chicago State, assisted on the match-winner and scored an insurance tally in the win at Youngstown State and capped it off with an assist on the late equalizer at Eastern Michigan.
A Late Equalizer: Fifth-year midfielder Allie Anderson came up with a clutch goal last time out at Eastern Michigan, volleying one home from the center of the box in the 86th minute to tie the match at 1-1. The goal, Anderson’s second of the season, was the latest regulation equalizer for Valpo since Tahelah Noel netted a goal 75 seconds from the end of regulation to force extra time in an eventual win over Eastern Illinois on Sept. 1, 2017. It was the latest equalizer in a draw for Valpo since Sept. 10, 2004 at Toledo, when Kelly Faulkner scored at the 87:06 mark in a 1-1 tie with the Rockets.
Making Debuts: Six players have made their first appearances in the Valpo uniform this season, five 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. Freshman Eve Miller made her collegiate debut with 20 minutes off the bench at Purdue, while most recently, freshman Hannah Gabriel came in for a 30-minute stretch in the win over Chicago State.
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.