Vikings fall to Bearcats in SMAC tourney

Published 7:12 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Niles keeper Connor Amberg goes up for a save against Battle Creek Central Tuesday. (Leader photo/TIM MOSIER)

Niles keeper Connor Amberg goes up for a save against Battle Creek Central Tuesday. (Leader photo/TIM MOSIER)

Visiting Battle Creek Central edged Niles 2-1 in the opening round of the SMAC Soccer Tournament Tuesday.

The win avenged a loss to the Vikings last week.

The Vikings came out of the gate firing, making good passes, getting good looks and clearly more verbal on the field than Battle Creek Central.

Niles was playing high-energy, sound fundamental soccer and spent the first 10 minutes in front of the Bearcats goal.

The hard work paid off in the form of an early goal by sophomore forward Jose Magana. Magana received a nice cross from the outside and was able to get a boot on it as it bounced across the goalmouth.

With a 1-0 lead the Vikings seemed to take their foot off of the gas.

The hard-fought balls that were won by Niles in the early stages of the game seemed to all be going to the Bearcats just before halftime. After falling into a state of permanent defense, it was only a matter of time before Battle Creek Central took advantage.

That moment came with just a few minutes to go in the half when junior midfielder Cesar Duran caught a cross right in front of the net. Duran was able to get his foot on the ball and poke it in the net with 4:45 second left in the half.

The second half opened almost the same way the first had ended.

The Vikings were on their heels and the Bearcats continued to advance the ball up the field. Just under two minutes into the second half Battle Creek Central struck again.

Junior defenseman Blady Patino played a long ball from outside of the box that had just enough loft to fall just over the out-stretched hand of impromptu goalkeeper Connor Amberg and just under the crossbar.

The goal would prove to be the game winner for the Bearcats.

“We lost a little bit of our intensity and one of the biggest things that I expressed to the boys at halftime was just feeding off of the communication,” Niles coach Dan Rodts said. “You could say we got a little comfortable. We have to stay vocal and stay consistent with what we are trying to do.”

The Vikings are back in action Wednesday in the second round of the SMAC tournament.