Valparaiso (7-5-6, 3-3-4 MVC)
2023 MVC Tournament - First/Second Rounds - Cedar Falls, Iowa
Thursday, Oct. 26 - vs. Belmont (3-8-7, 2-3-5 MVC) - 2 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 29 - at UNI (13-4-1, 6-4-0 MVC) - 1 p.m.
Next Up in Valpo Soccer: The postseason begins for the Valpo soccer team in the Hawkeye State this week, as the sixth-seeded Beacons take on seventh-seeded Belmont in first-round action in the MVC Tournament Thursday afternoon in Cedar Falls, Iowa. With a win on Thursday, Valpo would advance to a second-round matchup against third-seeded UNI Sunday afternoon.
Previously: Valpo won its home finale last Thursday night over UNI, 2-0, before falling 1-0 at UIC in the regular season finale.
Looking Ahead: If Valpo advances to the MVC Tournament semifinal, the Beacons would face second-seeded Missouri State at Drake next Thursday afternoon.
Following the Beacons: All of the MVC Tournament 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 128-117-48 (.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: Belmont - Valpo owns a 5-3-0 edge in the series over the Bruins, with each side winning one matchup since Belmont joined the Valley. In this year’s regular season matchup, Belmont used goals in the 33rd and 37th minutes to come away with a 2-0 victory on Brown Field.
UNI - Valpo holds a 6-4-2 edge in the series with the Panthers, and the two squads have split eight matchups (3-3-2) since Valpo joined the Valley. The regular season meeting between the two teams was just last Thursday, a 2-0 victory for the Beacons behind goals from Nicole Norfolk and Lindsey DuSatko. Nikki Coryell made four saves to keep the clean sheet in goal.
Scouting the Opposition: Belmont - The Bruins finished the regular season at 3-8-7 overall and 2-3-5 in MVC action, with a 3-2 loss against regular season Drake their final regular season match. Maci Pekmezian scored six of Belmont’s 12 goals, while Sarah Doyle played nearly every minute in goal with a 1.24 GAA and an .825 save percentage.
UNI - The Panthers come into the tournament with a 13-4-1 overall record and completed MVC play at 6-4-0, closing the season out with an 8-1 win over Illinois State. Olivia Knoepfle led all Valley players in the regular season with nine goals and also registered six assists, while Lauren Heinsch and Macy Smith each scored seven goals as well. Caitlin Richards saw the vast majority of time in goal and owns a 0.99 GAA and a .746 save percentage.
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.
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.
Valpo in the MVC Tournament: This year’s Valpo side is looking to improve upon the program’s track record all-time in the MVC Tournament. Valpo dropped all three of its conference tournament matches when it was an affiliate Valley member in the late 1990s, and is 1-5-1 in the tournament since joining the Valley as a full member in the summer of 2017.
Strong Nonconference Record: 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.
Notable Streaks This Season: This year’s Valpo side had a number of notable streaks that came to an end:
Home Success - Started season 3-0-3 through six home matches before falling to Belmont; second time in program history going unbeaten through first six home matches (2005)
Unbeaten Streak - Seven matches without a loss (2-0-5) Sept. 8-Oct. 5; sixth unbeaten streak of at least seven matches in program history
MVC Play - 11-match unbeaten streak in Valley action (5-0-6) Oct. 6, 2022-Oct. 5, 2023
Strong Defense - 15 consecutive MVC matches surrendering one goal or fewer Sept. 17, 2022-Oct. 5, 2023
Perhaps the most impressive item which was snapped in Valpo’s Oct. 8 loss at Drake was the fact that the Beacons lost a match in which they held a lead. The last time prior to Drake Valpo had the lead in a match and didn’t come away with at least a draw was way back on Sept. 28, 2019 at Missouri State. Valpo had won or tied 34 consecutive matches in which it held a lead before falling to the Bulldogs.
Fit to Be Tied: This season has featured a record number of ties for the Beacons. Valpo drew four times in MVC play and six times overall, both the highest single-season marks in program history. The 2010, 2011 and spring 2021 seasons all featured five deadlocks overall, while the 2003 and spring 2021 squads tied three times in conference action.
Starting Every Time Out: Four players started every match this season for Valpo: goalkeeper Nikki Coryell, center backs Nicole Norfolk and Anna Cup and right back Aubrey Ramey. Coryell and Norfolk both played all 1,620 minutes in the regular season, while Cup nearly did so, ending the regular season with 1,607 minutes played.
Dream Night For Norfolk: For a player who has been a stalwart in the back for Valpo since stepping on campus in 2019, the evening of Oct. 19 was the perfect way to send Nicole Norfolk off in the final home match of her career. When the whistle blew to kick off the match versus UNI, 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 - a mark she extended to 84 on Sunday at UIC.
Norfolk then came up with the eventual match-winning goal, her fifth career goal, in the 52nd minute and picked up an assist, the sixth of her career, on the later insurance tally. It marked the first time in Norfolk’s collegiate career she has been involved in multiple goals in the same match.
Just Another Clean Sheet: In the final home match of the season, Valpo blanked the highest-scoring attack in the Valley, with senior goalkeeper Nikki Coryell making four saves to earn the shutout. It was Coryell’s fifth clean sheet of the year and the 24th of her career, tied for third in MVC history. Coryell finished MVC play with a 0.90 GAA, the third time in her four seasons she has posted a GAA under one in conference action.
10 By 10: Senior forward Lindsey DuSatko found the back of the net for the insurance goal in Valpo’s win over UNI, her third goal of the season. She has tallied 10 career goals and also owns 10 career assists, one of just eight players in program history to reach double figures in both categories - current teammate Kelsie James is one of the others who has accomplished the feat.
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, while most recently, she scored what proved to be the match-winner in the Beacons’ 2-1 win at Southern Illinois. Joiner has scored a team-high eight goals this year, tied for ninth-most in a single season in program history and just one off the MVC lead. Joiner has 18 career goals, tied for sixth-most in program history, and is tied for eighth in program history with 39 career points.
A Sudden Nose for Goal: Senior Chase Ray went the first 56 minutes of her collegiate career without a goal, but the midfielder has found the scoring touch in Valley play, scoring in three of the Beacons’ 10 MVC fixtures. Ray opened her collegiate account with the tying goal at Evansville, scored the early match-winner in the second minute at Indiana State and most recently opened the scoring in Valpo’s win at Southern Illinois.
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 first three seasons. In 2022, 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.
Running Up Top: Senior forward Lindsey DuSatko entered 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.
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 in 2022. Norfolk added Third Team All-Midwest Region honors to her resume as well last season.
She Scores, We Win: 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.