By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity soccer team dominated Niles in their District matchup on home turf to end the season. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs simply couldn’t convert many shot opportunities into points and the Vikings just barely escaped with a 2-1 win.
“We dominated the front nonstop; we made a couple of mistakes,” Head Coach Lahou Boulnemour said after the game. “You saw how many shots we took on the keeper and they just don’t go in.”
The Bulldogs had some bad luck before the game began when two players contracted COVID-19 and had to miss the game. The mostly younger team stepped up. Forwards Landon Daniels, Avery Snook, Tyler DeVries, John Rhyner and Owen Blanchard kept the ball down on the Vikings’ end for much of the game.
Niles struck first in the contest about 10 minutes into the first half, but it was one of the few times the Vikings were in scoring position. The Bulldogs fielded and passed the ball well, but too many shots either sailed wide, were blocked by defenders, or were fielded by the keeper.
“They play really good soccer, a lot of good passing, intelligent passing, but unfortunately they’re young, they still make mistakes and that’s what cost us the game,” Boulnemour said.
The score was 1-0 in Niles’ favor at the half. Vicksburg came out firing again in the second and ran into the same scoring problems. Finally, with about 13 minutes left in the game, several Bulldogs got into a scrum for the ball in front of the net.
The ball got behind the keeper and Blanchard, the team’s lone senior, was there to drive it home for the tying goal. Vicksburg’s excitement was short-lived as Niles scored the winning goal about six minutes later. Despite a late surge, the Bulldogs ran out of time in the game and the season.
The team finishes the season with a 2-11-1 record. Their only wins of the season came against Comstock and Parchment.
Most of the games were much closer than their record indicates. Vicksburg noticeably improved in nearly every facet of the game as the season wore on, especially passing and ball handling, to a point the game could have gone either way. Boulnemour felt Niles was a huge missed opportunity, but he’s also enthusiastic to return so many players next season.
“We’re ready for next year,” Boulnemour said.
By Travis Smola