The Valpo soccer team secured its berth in the upcoming Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Thursday evening, scoring a pair of second-half goals on a rainy night at Brown Field to defeat UNI, 2-0. Fifth-year center back Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) had a dream night, setting program records for career matches played and matches started and then eventually scoring the match-winning goal.
How It Happened
- There wasn’t much in the first half for either side in terms of strong chances. The two squads combined for 10 first-half shots, with each goalie making a pair of easy stops to keep the scoreline 0-0 at halftime.
- It took Valpo less than seven minutes into the second half to take the lead over the Panthers. Senior Lindsey DuSatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) won the Beacons a corner kick on the near side, and junior Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) served a beautiful ball into the center of the box. On the other end, it was Norfolk out-leaping a pair of UNI defenders to power a header into the back of the net and give Valpo the 1-0 lead.
- Valpo nearly doubled its advantage less than 90 seconds later on an effort from distance from the right flank by DuSatko, which floated in towards goal before eventually caroming back into play off the crossbar.
- Senior Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made her best save of the night in the 58th minute. UNI’s Olivia Bohl had a pretty clean look in the box after a Panther corner, but Coryell was able to palm her shot up and over the bar to keep the lead.
- DuSatko had another great shot at Valpo’s second goal of the evening in the 65th minute, as she hit a ball from 20 yards out on the right around a defender. This effort was going to come in under the crossbar, but UNI goalkeeper Caitlin Richards made the leaping stop to push it over the bar.
- DuSatko was finally rewarded for her work with a 69th-minute goal. The senior started the sequence which led to the insurance tally by again winning Valpo a corner kick. Joiner took another good corner into the mixer, where the ball bounced around before finding the foot of Norfolk. Her shot from six yards out was saved by Richards, but DuSatko was on the spot to poke home the rebound and double the Beacons’ lead.
- Valpo was able to see the game out from there, as UNI had just one shot attempt over the final 20+ minutes.
Inside the Match
- Valpo locked up a spot in the MVC Tournament field on Thursday evening. The Beacons enter the final match day in a tie for fifth place, but could move up into the top-four — earning a first-round bye and the right to host their second-round match — with a win over UIC Sunday, combined with UNI dropping points to Illinois State and/or Murray State dropping points to Indiana State.
- When the whistle blew to kick off Thursday’s fixture, Norfolk officially moved alone atop the program’s career matches played and matches started charts, as she played and started for the 83rd time in the Valpo uniform.
- It was apropos that, on her record-setting night, it was Norfolk who came up with the eventual match-winning goal. The goal was her third of the season — two of which have been match-winners — and the fifth of her career.
- Norfolk was also credited with an assist on DuSatko’s insurance tally, her fourth assist of the season and the sixth of her career. It is the first time in Norfolk’s collegiate career she has been involved in multiple goals in the same match.
- Joiner’s assist on Norfolk’s match-winner was her first helper this season and the third assist of her career. With 39 career points, Joiner moves into a tie for eighth place in program history alongside Rachel Hoaglin.
- DuSatko’s goal was her third of the season and moves her into double figures with 10 for her career.
- Coryell made four saves to keep the clean sheet Thursday, her fifth of the season. She moves into a tie for third place in MVC history with 24 career shutouts.
- Valpo ended the match with a 13-10 edge in shots and put eight efforts on goal to UNI’s four. The Beacons also earned six of the match’s nine corner kicks.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“I thought tonight was a very quality performance by the team. We executed our tactical plan really, really well. I’m really impressed by the amount of possession and the amount of build we had against a diamond midfield — ultimately, our patience and discipline were outstanding."
“In the first half, we won lots of balls but didn't generate a lot of great scoring chances. We talked at halftime about that next step, coming up with ideas how to create those chances. In the second half, we were able to exploit the wide spaces well, which created space centrally for us to work, and in the end, set pieces got us across the finish line.”
“What more can you say about Nicole? If you're going to have your 83rd career start and set records, on that night to come in and have a goal which turns out to be a match-winner — no better script to write than that. She has just been so consistent for us throughout her career, and it’s truly been a privilege to work with her.”
“I thought our entire midfield did an excellent job tonight. Allie and Chase were great in front of the back line, winning a lot of balls and really keeping disciplined in not letting passes get to UNI’s front runners. That work made it a lot easier for Cass, Molly and our front runners to continue into the next line. It was an awesome job from our 9s — Addy and Kelsie — as well being disciplined, being able to keep the holding shape that we asked them to play.”
“I’ve got nothing but unbelievable things to say about the entire squad tonight — I’m just very proud of the way we came out and performed.”
Valpo (7-4-6, 3-2-4 MVC) closes the regular season on Sunday at noon at UIC. The match can be seen live on ESPN+.