Vikes tie Bearcats
NILES — Although Abel Fonseca’s first season as Niles boys soccer coach is not going according to plan as far as the record is concerned, he is happy with his way his team has continued to bond every day, eEspecially the Class of 2021.
The Viking juniors, led by co-captains Cade Vota and Kyle Brucker, knew that it was important for their class to buy in first at the beginning of the season.
“We needed to make sure we set the tone for the season,” Vota said. “Once we bought into coach and what he was trying to do, others followed soon after.”
That mentality helped on Tuesday night when the Battle Creek Central Bearcats came to town for a SMAC showdown, finishing with a 4-4 final.
Brucker gave Niles (4-10-2) the lead in just the second minute from an Andrew Boling thru ball that cut the Bearcat defense in half.
But Battle Creek Central (1-13-1) quickly answered with the three goals in the next 14 minutes and added a fourth goal just before halftime.
Vota also scored in the first half, and Niles was down 4-2 at halftime.
“All season we have not been playing with intensity in the first half,” Fonseca said. “We play down and get mad at ourselves. So, I told them at halftime that we are only hurting ourselves, and we must utilize what we have been training for all season and win the second half. And the juniors carried the load for us today. They have been the core of the group.”
Dominick Thornton, another junior, got the Vikings within one in the 46th minute after Bruckner displayed his speed down the left touchline and crossed the ball right in front of the goal.
“That was what we needed coming right out of halftime,” Thornton said. “Kyle did an excellent job putting me in a great position to score.”
As the second half was coming to a close, Niles continued to press on defense and force turnovers to generate attacks on the Bearcat’s goalkeeper.
Finally, in the 79th minute, Vota intercepted a pass in the middle of the field and found Brucker who smashed a rocket into the back of the net, tying the game.
“We never gave up,” Bruckner said. “We won the second half like we were supposed to.”