Host Monrovia avenged at least one regular-season loss and doubled its season win total in a five-day span, capping that stretch Saturday night by upsetting West Vigo 2-1 for the championship of the Class 2A Monrovia Sectional in boys high school soccer.
West Vigo was the defending sectional champion and had beaten the Bulldogs 5-3 during the regular season on a four-goal night for Lucas Hogue. So the visitors expected to win on Saturday.
"We did," coach Brady Cole acknowledged, "not only because we beat them in the regular season, but because that's what we do."
That belief appeared more than justified early in the match. A misplayed ball in front of the goal forced one of the Monrovia defensemen to rescue goalkeeper Riley Corona in the second minute and long runs down the left flank by Johnathan Otte set up serious scoring chances in the 12th and 13th minutes. Another scramble around the net led to another near-goal in the 18th minute, the ball bouncing off the goalpost.
"Johnathan Otte is me in an All-America wrestler's body," said Cole, indicating the Viking senior would be welcome as an assistant coach in the future. "He has the same mind-set as me."
But by the time of that second miscue, the Vikings were behind. The hosts got their first shot in the 14th minute and their first shot on goal — and in the goal — a minute after that, Malychi Brown converting a through ball from Colin Lee.
The Vikings were nonplussed about that turn of events, and in the 22nd minute a free kick by Monte Walker went beautifully to the front of the net, from where Otte scored to tie the match. West Vigo had plenty of chances the rest of the half but went to intermission with a comfortable lead in shots — and a tie on the scoreboard.
And, the cliche goes, you know what happens when you let an underdog hang around.
West Vigo had the earlier chances in the second period too, nearly scoring off a throw-in in the fourth minute. Walker picked off a clearing pass seconds later and almost scored with that.
But by this time the Bulldogs — more than willing to match West Vigo's always physical play — were feeling it. Now it was West Vigo's Bryce Corbett who was the keeper under seige and the home team was the quicker and more enthusiastic one. "That's a rarity," Cole said afterward while agreeing with the enthusiasm assessment.
A Monrovia goal seemed inevitable, and it came in the same fashion and at almost the exact same time in the period that the first one did. This time it was Bulldog captain Alex Willett pushing the ball ahead to Kadyn Williams, and it was a 2-1 match with 25 minutes to play.
And the Vikings didn't look like themselves.
"What worked all this week just didn't work [Saturday]," Cole said, indicating his team might have been thrown off-stride by the change of fortune.
The possibility for a comeback existed until the final signal, which came while Corona and several other players were sprawled near the net after the Monrovia keeper had batted away the rebound of a free kick launched by Walker in the final seconds. But it was the Bulldogs who were moving on.
"These seniors [Otte, Hogue, Jordan Augustus, Mikey Higgins and Marcus Hollifield] mean a lot to me," Cole said after the match, struggling to contain his emotions. "I'm very proud of them. They've accomplished a lot."
As far as the rest of the Vikings are concerned, "This may be a good thing for our future," Cole said. "[This loss] will make it a little easier to wake up and do morning workouts this winter."
M — Malychi Brown (Colin Lee), 25:37 1st
WV — Johnathan Otte (Monte Walker), 18:12 1st
M — Kadyn Williams (Alex Willett), 25:25 2nd
Shots (on goal) — WV 14 (10), Monrovia 13 (5)
Corner kicks — WV 4, Monrovia 4
Next — Monrovia (6-13) plays next Saturday at the Heritage Hills Regional. West Vigo finished 12-4-1.