The Valpo soccer season saw its 2021 spring campaign finish just short of the ultimate goal Sunday in Chicago, Ill., as top-seeded Loyola made a 35th-minute goal stand up for a 1-0 final in the title match of the MVC Championship. Senior Keegan Maris (Batavia, Ill./Batavia), freshman Lindsey Dusatko (Plainfield, Ill./North) and freshman Nikki Coryell (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) represented the Brown and Gold on the All-Tournament Team, while Maris also was honored as the winner of the Elite 17 Award.
How It Happened
- Valpo had a solid push forward in the 10th minute, as senior Tahelah Noel (Buffalo, N.Y./Christian Central Academy) got to the end line and put a cross into the box for a shot from sophomore Natalie Graf (Williamsburg, Mich./St. Francis), but Graf’s effort was saved by Loyola goalkeeper Grace Droessler.
- Coryell was up to the task on a flurry from Loyola in the 29th minute, as the Ramblers had a pair of close-range efforts off of a corner kick that she turned away.
- Loyola got on the board in the 35th minute. Megan Nemec’s original shot hit the crossbar and caromed off to the foot of Freya Glen, who knocked it inside the left post from eight yards out.
- Valpo had a pair of long-range efforts on frame in the final minutes of the first half that were stopped by Droessler as the match went into halftime with a 1-0 scoreline.
- Coryell made a strong diving save on a shot from distance from Loyola’s Jenna Ross in the 53rd minute to keep it a one-goal game.
- Valpo earned a corner kick in the 72nd minute which was cleared out of the box by the Loyola defense. After regaining possession, the Brown and Gold got the ball to Alexis Gaffney (Broomfield, Colo./Legacy) at the top of the box, but her shot was blocked by a Loyola defender.
- Gaffney’s shot proved to be the last of the match for Valpo as the Ramblers saw out the win.
Inside the Match
- Valpo was making its first appearance in the title match of the MVC Championship since joining the conference. Valpo’s last title match came in the Horizon League in 2014.
- Valpo fell to Loyola by a 1-0 final for the second time this season, as the Ramblers won by the same scoreline at Brown Field.
- The Ramblers’ goal late in the first half snapped the Valpo defense’s shutout streak at 347 consecutive minutes, dating back to April 3.
- Loyola finished the match with a 19-6 advantage in shots and put six on goal to Valpo’s three. Coryell made five saves while limiting the Ramblers to the one goal.
Inside the Honors
- Maris earned the MVC’s Elite 17 Award, an honor modeled after the NCAA Elite 90 Academic Recognition Award Program and which is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA competing at the finals site at each of the MVC’s championships. Maris currently has a perfect 4.00 GPA as a nursing major.
- Maris also was one of Valpo’s three All-Tournament Team honorees after playing all 309 minutes of the tournament at left back as part of a defensive unit which surrendered just one goal in three matches.
- Coryell earned All-Tournament Team accolades as she made 13 saves over the three tournament matches and posted a pair of clean sheets, while Dusatko received the award for a tournament which was highlighted by her golden goal at Indiana State in the semifinals.
Inside the Season
- Valpo closes the spring 2021 campaign with a 5-4-5 record, its first season above .500 since the 2014 season.
- As a team, Valpo surrendered the fewest goals in a single season in program history (8) and posted a 0.52 GAA, third-best in a single season.
- Coryell’s 0.52 GAA ranks second on Valpo’s individual single-season chart, while her .881 save percentage is also second-best in program history.
- Valpo surrendered more than one goal just once in 14 matches and had just one contest (2-0 regular season win over Indiana State) decided by more than one goal.