Buoyed by tremendous fan support from a large contingent, the Valpo soccer team brought a valiant battle to the pitch Saturday evening in first-round NCAA Tournament action at #9 Notre Dame, as the match was deadlocked past halftime before the Fighting Irish scored a pair of second-half goals for a 2-0 victory over the Beacons. The loss ends Valpo’s tremendous season with an 11-6-6 overall record.
How It Happened
- Behind the stellar goalkeeping of senior Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley), the Beacons kept the Irish off the scoreboard over the opening 45 minutes. Coryell made seven saves in the first half, with highlights including a leaping punch over the bar in the seventh minute, a diving stop in the 18th minute and a save laying out to her left in the 28th minute.
- Valpo’s best chance of the opening half came courtesy of junior Addy Joiner (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) in the 27th minute on a set piece. Joiner took a free kick from about 25 yards out and sent it towards the far post along the ground, but it scooted wide of the post.
- Notre Dame got on the board with its first shot of the second half, as Ellie Ospeck finished from close range in the 49th minute.
- The Irish got an insurance tally in the 83rd minute, as Charlie Codd’s shot ricocheted off the far post and in.
- Fifth-year Allie Anderson (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South [Xavier]) hit a shot from distance in the 86th minute in an effort to halve the deficit, but it went over the bar.
Inside the Match
- The NCAA Tournament appearance was the third in program history. All three times (2005, 2014, 2023), Valpo has played at Notre Dame in the first round.
- Coryell ended up making a season-high nine saves in limiting Notre Dame to the two goals.
Inside the Season
- The Beacons finished the campaign with 11 wins, tied for fourth-most in a single season in program history.
- Valpo won its third conference tournament in program history by claiming the MVC Tournament title, in the process becoming the first Valpo Athletics program to win an MVC Tournament championship.
- Valpo finished nonconference play with a 4-2-2 record, the program’s best record in nonconference play in a season since 2014.
- Coryell and the Beacons posted nine clean sheets on the season — Coryell ranks fourth on Valpo’s single-season chart and tied for fourth on the MVC single-season chart, while the nine shutouts are tied for fourth in a season as a team in program history.
- Coryell played 2,090 minutes in goal, the most by a goalkeeper in a season in program history and second in MVC history. She also ranked sixth in a single season in program history in both GAA (0.86) and save percentage (.831), and 10th in saves (98) as well.
- Senior Lindsey DuSatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) tallied a team-high five assists on the season, tied for fourth in a single season in program history. Joiner scored a team-high nine goals this year to move into ninth in program history in that category.
Inside the Careers
- Three members of this year’s roster were in their fifth season of collegiate soccer.
- Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) played all five years at Valpo, setting program records for matches played (88) and matches started (87) as an integral center back. A three-time All-MVC honoree, including First Team recognition each of the last two years, Norfolk finished with five career goals and six assists.
- Anderson appeared in 56 matches, starting 52 times, over her three years at Valpo. A two-time All-MVC honoree, she tallied three goals and nine assists in the Valpo uniform.
- While Abbey Hillman (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central [Loyola]) was sidelined due to injury this year, she was an MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team choice last year and appeared in 35 matches in the Brown and Gold, starting 25 times.
- All six members of the Beacons’ senior class will have the option to potentially return for a fifth season, as their freshman campaign coincided with the COVID-affected season, but inevitably at least some of their collegiate careers came to an end on Saturday.
- Coryell matched Valpo’s program record for matches played by a goalkeeper with 71. The four-time All-MVC honoree and three-time MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, Coryell is first in program history with an .830 save percentage, first in MVC history and second in Valpo history with 28 clean sheets, and third in program history and eighth in MVC history with an 0.87 GAA.
- DuSatko has appeared in 67 matches over the last four years, starting 58 times. A three-time All-MVC honoree, she is tied for fifth all-time at Valpo with 11 career assists and also has scored 11 goals.
- Cassidy Eckstein (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) has appeared in 69 matches in the midfield over the last four years, starting on 32 occasions. She tallied a match-winning goal as a sophomore at Chicago State.
- Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) saw action in 67 matches on Valpo’s front line over the last four years, starting 41 times. A First Team All-MVC selection in 2021, James has scored 13 goals, ranks third in program history with 12 assists and is 10th in program history with 38 points.
- Aubrey Ramey (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School [DePaul]) started all 23 of her appearances this year in her first season at Valpo, the first field player in program history to start 23 matches in a season. She was a key part of the Beacons’ back line this year, tallied a pair of assists and was named to the MVC All-Tournament Team.
- Chase Ray (Bellevue, Ohio/Bellevue) appeared in 71 matches in the midfield over the last four years, starting 41 times. She picked up three goals and an assist this year as a senior, including a match-winner in MVC play against Indiana State.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“Great fight by our group. I think all year we've been disciplined, we try to stay really organized defensively, and we did that. We kept the game in front of us and did a really great job for 49 minutes. To their credit, they're a really good side, they've got very talented players - some of their uniqueness came out in those moments and got them a result. That doesn't take away from our effort - every player that stepped out there tonight left their heart on the field, and I have the utmost respect for that.”
“This group has meant so many things to me - I don't know if I can put into words all the things they mean. Maybe all you need to know is the number of people who came out here tonight. This group has done so many things on our campus - not just in athletics, but in their sororities, with The Torch, with everything on campus relating to their particular majors. They're just so invested in this University. I told them in the circle, what they did was they have a light that they have burnt with our program and in our athletic department that will never be extinguished. It will always shine that bright, because they brought that energy, they brought that passion to the game, but they also brought fun to the locker room, they brought intensity to the classroom, they brought friendships across campus. To me, that is everything that our University stands for. When I think of Valparaiso University, I will think of this special group.”
“It made me extremely proud to see the amazing turnout. Thank you to Valparaiso University, the community - all we heard all week was how proud people were of us, how much they were behind us. This is what our campus and University needs, we need this kind of support. That level of support makes such an impact on our players - it was so impressive, and just moved me to see that support.”