Niles’ Christian Rackley (No. 2) scores in the opening round of the VanDenBerg Invitational on Saturday against Buchanan. Niles, the defending champion, was leading Brandywine 4-0 in the opening half when weather stopped the tournament. It will resume Monday at 3 p.m. (Daily Star photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Archived Story

Weather stops Niles soccer

Published 1:27pm Monday, August 22, 2011

Mother Nature appeared to be the only answer to stopping the Niles Vikings from winning the annual VanDenBerg Soccer Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Niles High School.

The Vikings were dominating cross-town rival Brandywine 4-0 at 26:25 of the first half when thunder and lightning delayed the contest for a minimum of 30 minutes. After several minutes and repeated episodes of thunder and lightning, the game was delayed until Monday afternoon.

The Vikings jumped on the Bobcats right from the first whistle as Chase Hullinger raced to the corner and lofted a nice crossing pass in front of the goal and right to teammate Cicone Palmore, who found the back of the net giving the Vikings the 1-0 lead just 15 seconds into the match.

“That first goal was a set play that we drew up and it always makes you happy when you score on a set play,” said Niles head coach Jerry Holtgren. “Our whole off season I have been encouraging the kids to think for themselves and make adjustments on the fly, and they are doing that.”

Niles continued to pressure the Bobcat zone repeatedly getting off shot after shot before Christian Rackley connected unassisted at 10:13 of the first half. Just three minutes later Palmore sent a nice cross pass just over the outstretched hands of Brandywine keeper Alex Walters and right to teammate Cole Allison who scored giving the Vikings a commanding 3-0 lead.

“Niles is tough,” Brandywine coach Evan Winkler said.  “They are quick, they are fast and they move the ball well. It’s definitely a great learning experience for our kids.”

Kai VanAntwerp sent a nice cross pass into the zone toward Hullinger when a Bobcat defender stepped in front of Hullinger and couldn’t clear the ball scoring on his own goal for the fourth goal of the game before the bad weather came.

Niles reached the championship game with a 3-1 victory over Buchanan in their first game of the tournament.

In that game Niles managed to get off 25 shots they just couldn’t capitalize on most of them.

The Vikings scored first as Allison connected on goal with the assist going to Alex Wright. Graham Hoppstock scored the second goal unassisted giving the Vikings a 2-0 halftime lead.

Buchanan’s Brent Brown placed a free kick into the top corner of the net giving the Bucks their first goal of the year and cut the Niles lead in half, 2-1.

Rackley finished the scoring for the Vikings as he connected unassisted with less than four minutes remaining to put the game out of reach.

“I was really happy with how we were generating shots,” said Holtgren. “Going into the game we just really wanted to possess the ball and control the tempo, and we did that so I was happy.”

The Bobcats reached the championship game with a come from behind victory of Lakeland conference opponent Cassopolis, 3-2.

The Rangers jumped out to the early lead as Tyler Buttrick connected from just outside the box with a shot that found the bottom of the cross bar and caromed into the goal just over five minutes into the game.

Several minutes later as Brandywine failed to clear the ball out of its own zone, Calvin Curtis of Cassopolis connected on an open goal giving the Rangers the 2-0 lead just 12 minutes into the contest.

The Bobcats would answer as Jordan Hatch took the assist from Ryan Kubiak and beat the Ranger goalkeeper to cut the lead to 2-1 at the intermission.

Brandywine tied the game early in the second half as Zach Schmidt scored off an assist from Blake Lerner just two minutes into the second half.

Hatch and Kubiak would team up again at the 48-minute mark giving the Bobcats the 3-2 lead and the victory.

“We are starting three freshmen on defense so it’s kind of a learning curve, but I think they were starting to get a little more comfortable after those first 12 minutes,” Winkler said. “We really responded well after that, and I really like how they handled the adversity and bounced back.”

VanDenBerg Invitational

First round



Halftime score

Niles 2, Buchanan 0

First half

N – Cole Allison (Alex Wright assist)

N – Graham Hoppstock

Second half

B – Brent Brown

N – Christian Rackley



Halftime score

Casssopolis 2, Brandywine 1

First half

C – Tyler Buttrick

C – Calvin Curtis

BW – Jordan Hatch (Ryan Kubiak assist)

Second half

BW – Zach Schmidzt (Blake Lerner assist)

BW – Hatch (Kubiak assist)


(Suspended due to weather with Niles leading 4-0)

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