Celebrating its seniors on Senior Day at Brown Field Saturday in the final regular season home match, it was the youngsters who led the way as the match got underway, as a pair of freshmen scored for the Valpo soccer team in a key 2-1 victory over Missouri State. The win and the three points keep Valpo in the hunt for hosting a potential MVC Tournament quarterfinal match.
How It Happened
- A slow start both ways saw the first shot for either side come in the 19th minute.
- With the match nearing intermission, it was Valpo which struck first in the 39th minute. Senior Keegan Maris (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) delivered a perfect ball from the left side into the box from 45 yards out. On the other end, freshman Lindsey Dusatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) ran by her defender and then beat MSU goalkeeper Kaitlin Maxwell to the ball, sliding a right-footed effort along the ground inside the left post to give Valpo the lead.
- Valpo had an opportunity to double its lead in the 52nd minute, but freshman Kelsie James (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) put her shot off the right post.
- Eight minutes later, James came through to make it 2-0 to the Brown and Gold. The rookie controlled deep in the attacking third on the right side and used some footwork past a couple defenders to keep control. James then unleashed a curling shot with her left foot from the edge of the box which bent its way into the upper-left corner of the goal to double the advantage.
- The Bears looked to make it a one-goal game in the 67th minute, as after a scramble following a corner, MSU’s Kara Privitera had an effort with the goalie off the line. But waiting on the line to clear away Privitera’s shot was junior Peyton Flynn (Poplar Grove, Ill./Belvidere North).
- MSU found the back of the net in the 69th minute on a rebound goal from Anna Durnin.
- While the woodwork was unkind to Valpo earlier in the second half, it came in handy late in the match, as an MSU header in the 85th minute rattled off the crossbar and back into play.
Inside the Match
- Saturday’s win puts Valpo at nine points through seven MVC matches, tied for third in the conference table pending a pair of matches later Saturday evening.
- With one MVC match remaining, Valpo has already tied its highest point total in conference play since joining the Valley.
- Dusatko’s goal in the first half was the second of her rookie season. Maris’ assist on the opening goal was not only her first of the year, but her first since an assist in the season opener of the 2018 campaign.
- James notched her team-high third goal of the year with her second-half tally, which was her first career match-winning goal.
- Valpo out-shot MSU for the match, 17-14, and put seven shots on goal to the Bears’ four. Valpo goalkeeper Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) made a pair of saves in the winning effort to go with the team save credited thanks to Flynn’s clearance.
- Valpo has surrendered one goal or fewer in nine of its 10 matches this season. This year’s squad is attempting to become the third Valpo side under John Marovich to surrender more than one goal just once in a season, as the 2014 team held 19 of 20 opponents to zero or one goals, while the 2012 side kept 18 of 19 opponents under two goals.
- Prior to the match, Valpo celebrated the four seniors on this year’s squad playing their final regular season match on Brown Field — Maris, Lauren Torhorst (Waterford, Wis./Waterford Union), Tahelah Noel (Buffalo, N.Y./Christian Central Academy) and Kiera Pratt (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield Central). All four started on Saturday and played at least 40 minutes.
- Maris, Coryell, Kiley Dugan (Irwin, Pa./Penn-Trafford) and Nicole Norfolk (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) all started for the 10th time in as many matches this year, with the latter two extending their consecutive matches started streak to 28 apiece.
Thoughts From Coach Marovich
“Senior Day was an opportunity to have a special day despite the pandemic. We were able to create a nice event to celebrate our seniors, and the fact we were able to have their parents in attendance and nearby during the ceremony combined with winning the match will make for a day they'll never forget. This group of seniors has been a great group, and the word which will always resonate with me when thinking about this group and what they've been through is perseverance. I'm really excited for them that they're in the position they're in right now, helping to grow our program and leaving their mark on it.”
“To get the goal right before the half was huge. On that play, it starts with Kelsie sticking with our tactical plan to press their center backs and create a turnover. Keegan put a great ball in and Lindsey made a great run to be in position to score, but none of that happens unless we stick to our plan to pressure.”
“I was most pleased today with how we came out in the second half. The first 15 minutes, we were on the front foot and gave ourselves multiple scoring opportunities. We had a couple great combinations during that stretch and won a lot of balls in the midfield. We were rewarded for it through Kelsie's goal - a great individual play and a great finish.”
“Surrendering the goal we did, against the run of play, was unfortunate. But we talk about as a group, what we have to do to win games is handle every moment - good or bad - and move on to the next play. We had to pick up that player, and we did that today.”
Valpo (3-3-4, 2-2-3 MVC) concludes the regular season Wednesday evening at Illinois State with a 5 p.m. kickoff as it looks to secure a spot in the MVC Tournament and a potential home quarterfinal. The match is slated for broadcast on ESPN+.