Big second half lifts VikingsPublished 10:32pm Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Niles coach Jerry Holtgren uncharacteristically “got angry” with his team at halftime of a 1-1 soccer match Tuesday night and apparently that was exactly what his team needed as the Vikings responded with five goals in the second half to knock off the visiting Beavers of Battle Creek Harper Creek 6-1.
“I got a little angry,” Holtgren said afterwards. “I don’t usually do that, but I gave them an earful, threw down my clipboard and walked away, and they responded to it. Ultimately they just needed some tough love.”
After falling behind 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Niles was able to finally crack the scoreboard when Cicone Palmore headed in a corner kick off the foot of Chase Hullinger to tie the game 1-1 just before the intermission.
The Vikings came out in the second half looking like a completely different team. Just under two minutes into the half Cole Krassow took a pass from Palmore and blasted a shot through the Beaver defense and into the back of the net giving the home team the 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, after Kai VanAntwerp’s corner kick was cleared out of the Beaver zone, Stuart Coulston got a shot past the Beaver goalie from about 20 yards out giving the Vikings a little more cushion, 3-1.
The two Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference teams continued to attack each other over the next 25 minutes before Palmore would find the goal again.
Palmore got the ball deep into the Harper Creek zone when he drilled a shot past the keeper and into the goal bringing the score to 4-1.
Just moments later Palmore would blast another shot on goal but the keeper, Sean Murphy made the save and could not control the ball and Niles’ Oliver Rodriguez followed the play with a nice goal increasing the lead to 5-1.
Less than a minute later, Krassow found foreign exchange student, Jesus Sanchez who got in on the action scoring Niles’ sixth and final goal bringing the tally to 6-1 with six unanswered goals.
“This was his (Palmore) best game,” said Holtgren. “We’ve really been working with him and it all came together today.”
Holtgren may have gotten angry at halftime, but after the game he had nothing but praise for how his team played.
“I’m proud of the guys. They realized they had a rough first half and they got motivated. The second half was a culmination of everything that we’ve worked on, and it all just came together. They all bought in at the same time and they played hard.”
Niles improves to 9-9-1 on the season and will play Marcellus on Thursday before opening up district play Monday when they host Three Rivers.
The match will start at 5 p.m.