West Vigo athletic director Kenny Pearson was bemoaning his soccer facility's lack of a sprinkler system Monday evening, and an hour or so later got some unfortunate evidence in his favor.
A couple of bad hops on the hard ground of the West Vigo pitch resulted in hand balls and penalty kicks in the boys match of a doubleheader against visiting South Vermillion, and the Wildcats' Cale Royer converted both of them for what turned out to be a 2-2 tie with the Vikings. The West Vigo girls won the nightcap 7-0 over South Vermillion.
"The first [hand ball in the box] got right up in [a Vikings'] face and he just threw his hand up to protect himself," coach Brady Cole of the West Vigo boys said after the match, "and the second one was just a whiff."
The fact that the Wildcats were in that part of the field was important too, coach Juan Montanez of the Wildcats pointed out.
"It came down to us being down in the 18[-yard box] and then see what happens," he said.
From a spectator standpoint, the two PKs — less than four minutes apart — were a good thing. After that the Vikings were angry, the Wildcats were fired up, and some entertaining soccer was a result, although neither team was able to break the tie.
The first period wasn't nearly as interesting. West Vigo dominated for more than 20 minutes but without any goals to show for it, then finally broke through — after the Wildcats had shown some life — when Mikey Higgins took a pass from Lucas Hogue and scored from about 20 yards out in the 27th minute.
The visitors had a chance to tie five minutes later when Keegan Mackey got the ball to Bryce McLaren for a shot that was stopped but juggled by Viking goalkeeper Bryce Corbett, and a rebound try went wide. After the Vikings failed to capitalize on what appeared to be a gaping goal mouth, they increased their lead to 2-0 on a beautiful play involving Hogue, Johnathan Otte and Monte Walker, who also rammed home a shot from long range.
"I've got to give it to Brady," Montanez said later. "His teams are really physical — in a good way. In the second half we matched them up a little better."
Corbett had the save of the second period to keep the match tied, leaping to punch a shot safely over the crossbar, as the two teams battled on even terms the last 30 minutes.
"We've got to be able to kick it our game in and fight it off," said Cole, whose Vikings play Greencastle on Tuesday in a battle of Western Indiana Conference unbeatens. "If we don't do it [Tuesday], we'll be 3-1 [in the WIC], not 4-0 . . . this match might be a good thing to wake us up."
Corynn DeGroote scored five times for the Vikings in the girls match, with her younger sister Kyarra also getting a goal and Katelyn Fennell adding a goal and three assists.
But just as big a story was the West Vigo defense, which didn't allow a shot in the first half and just three for the match. Keeper Avery Funk probably prevented at least a half dozen potential shots by coming out and thwarting potential South Vermillion attacks — and stopped a point-blank shot by Claire Kendrick on the Wildcats' first shot that got through — and Viking coach Alicia Lanham praised her and the rest of the Viking defenders.
"They are so easy to coach," Lanham said in mentioning four-year defender Gabby Buckallew, fellow seniors Kaitlyn Ray and Elizabeth Vinardi and first-year junior Ellie Easton in addition to Funk. "They ask what they can do to get better . . . eager to learn."
Otherwise, Lanham said, "We haven't played in two weeks, so we've been working on some new formations in practice . . . considering all that, I thought we looked pretty good."
The threats the Wildcats had were usually generated by speedy junior captain Natalie Silver, and senior Laney Glass was solid in the back. There were also several freshmen seeing considerable playing time for the visitors.
"We won a lot of balls in the air, and we held our shape," pointed out coach Kayla Payton, "but we just didn't play our game . . . we've got a good group of freshmen and we're looking forward to seeing them grow."
WV — Mikey Higgins (Lucas Hogue), 13:51, 1st
WV — Monte Walker (Johnathan Otte), 3:19, 1st
SV — Cale Royer penalty kick, 34:30 2nd
SV — Royer penalty kick, 30:54 2nd
Shots (on goal) — SV 14 (7), WV 13 (5)
Corner kicks — SV 5, WV 6
Next — West Vigo (3-2-1) plays Tuesday at Greencastle in a battle for first place in the Western Indiana Conference. South Vermillion (3-4-1) hosts Benton Central on Saturday.
WV — Corynn DeGroote, 31:10 1st
WV — Katelyn Fennell free kick, 28:01 1st
WV — C.DeGroote (Fennell), 4:22 1st
WV — Kyarra DeGroote, 35:34 2nd
WV — C.DeGroote (Fennell), 31:15 2nd
WV — C.DeGroote, 15:05 2nd
WV — C.DeGroote (Fennell), 9:14 2nd
Shots (on goal) — SV 3 (2), WV 29 (16)
Corner kicks — SV 0, WV 9
Next — West Vigo (3-2) hosts Greencastle on Tuesday. South Vermillion (2-4-1) plays Sept. 24 at Terre Haute South.