The Valpo soccer team earned a big three points to move up the Missouri Valley Conference standings Thursday evening, as the Beacons came away with a 2-1 victory at Southern Illinois.
How It Happened
- The team has emphasized starting out on the front foot since the start of Valley play, and the Beacons did that once again on Thursday, opening the scoring in the 16th minute. Some nice combination action got the ball to junior Sam Gountounas (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) on the right flank. Gountounas was able to drive up the end line and serve the ball back towards the penalty spot. Junior Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) looked to go back post but then ran at the near post, dragging defenders with her and creating an opening for senior Chase Ray (Bellevue, Ohio/Bellevue), who crashed into the box on the end of Gountounas’ service and drove it home for the 1-0 lead.
- Valpo carried the 1-0 lead into the halftime break, but it took the Beacons less than eight minutes into the second half to double their lead. Following a cross into the box, sophomore Molly O’Rear (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) had her shot stopped by SIU goalkeeper Chantelle Symes. But the rebound fell to Joiner, who put it away to make it 2-0 Valpo.
- The Salukis sliced the lead in half when Kaitlin DuCharme found the back of the net in the 76th minute. But Valpo kept SIU at bay the rest of the way to see the game out and earn the victory.
Inside the Match
- By picking up three points on Thursday, Valpo jumped from a tie for seventh to a tie for fifth in the MVC standings. The Beacons also have a match in hand on the UIC side one point ahead of them in fourth place.
- Ray has scored three goals in Valpo’s last seven matches after not tallying a goal in the first 56 matches of her career.
- Seven of Valpo’s 21 goals this season have come within the match’s first 20 minutes.
- Gountounas’ assist on Ray’s goal was her first career helper.
- Joiner pulled into first place all alone among Valley players with her eighth goal of the season Thursday with what became her sixth career match-winner.
- Joiner has matched Ray with three goals within MVC action this year.
- Joiner’s eight goals on the season are tied for ninth-most in a single season in program history, while her 18 career goals are tied for sixth and her 38 career points are tied for ninth.
- Joiner has scored in nine of Valpo’s last 16 MVC fixtures dating back to last season. Also dating back to last year, 14 of Joiner’s last 28 shots on goal have found the back of the net.
- O’Rear picked up her first assist of the season and third of her career on Joiner’s match-winner.
- Senior goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made five saves in goal in the winning effort.
- Fifth-year center back Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) made her 81st career appearance and career start Thursday, leaving her one shy of Beth Muskovich for the most in program history in both categories.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I’m just proud of this group again tonight. I felt like we came out again on the front foot and were rewarded with an early goal for our work.”
“What I really liked about our performance was a lot of intentional movement that carried over from our training sessions into the match. And then as Southern Illinois started to adjust and try to take away what we were trying to do with that movement, we made adjustments of our own and continued to make really good tactical decisions in those spaces.”
“It became a battle — you score two goals, and then give away a goal on a set piece that you want to do better on. But we grinded it out to get a win on the road — hats off to our players, because in conference matches late in the season, road wins are gold. Our performance was good, our quality was good and our intentional work in all thirds of the field was good.”
Valpo (6-3-6, 2-1-4 MVC) comes home to Brown Field for its final two home matches of the season, starting on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Belmont. The match against the Bruins, which can be seen live on ESPN+, will be the program’s Senior Day, with the six members of the Beacons’ senior class honored prior to the match.