Knights outplay Vikings

Published 4:43 am Wednesday, October 13, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Niles didn't lack opportunities to score Tuesday against Loy Norrix in the second round of the SMAC Black Division soccer tournament. It was putting the ball in the net that was the problem.
Top-seeded Niles lost 2-1 to No. 4 seed Loy Norrix at home. The Vikings were eight seconds away from being shut out before a penalty kick goal late in the game gave them their only score.
Although the two teams combined for three goals, only one was scored in the first 79 minutes of the game. The first half in particular was a defensive stalemate that produced few shots on goal from either side.
With 21:25 remaining in the first period, a Niles' hand-ball inside its own penalty box gave the Knights a direct-kick from just outside the box. Loy Norrix's Kaldis Grants took advantage, blasting the ball high and right over the outstretched arms of Viking goal-keeper Cory Coquillard.
The kick actually hit the upper right corner of the goal, where the cross bar meets the goal post, and ricocheted into the net. It was all the scoring that would be done until a minute left in the game.
In the first half, both goalies did a good job limiting the other team's chances. The defenses also did a good job clearing the ball when it got near the goal. Despite the Knights' defensive effort, Holtgren said his team did not play well in the first 40 minutes.
Niles came out more aggressive from the start in the second period. A majority of the half was spent with the Vikings attacking the goal, but getting limited shots because of Loy Norrix's defense.
Late in the second half, the Vikings broke free from the Knights on multiple occasions, but couldn't convert. Twice they missed shots wide when only Loy Norrix's goalie was there to stop them.
The Vikings also missed two shots after the Knights' goalie fell down and Loy Norrix defenders stopped the shots.
With 1:11 remaining in the game, the Knights' Jeff Mitchell was taking the ball down field with two Niles defenders on him. From the right corner, almost 30 yards out, he slipped a kick past Coquillard for Loy Norrix's second goal. Coquillard looked as though he wasn't ready for the kick.
Though it was too late for a comeback, the Vikings got a penalty kick with eight seconds remaining in the game. Joe Dunnett shot the ball to the left of the goal-keeper to get Niles on the board.
The game was physical, something Holtgren said he expected from Loy Norrix. While the aggressive play didn't affect his team, he said it caused them to get more physical.
Niles plays again Thursday at home against the loser of the Kalamazoo Central-Sturgis game. The game starts at 4:30 p.m.
Loy Norrix moves into the Black Division championship game against the winner Thursday.