Last year Evergreen traveled to Maumee Valley Country with a Division III sectional title on the line, and played on a field that more resembled a farmer’s pasture, than a soccer complex.
The Vikings lost that match 8-4.
This year? Same two teams, same situation.
But this time the match was on the field turf at Evergreen’s Pifer Field Saturday afternoon.
And this time senior Alex Peete made a pre-game prediction that he was a big part in making good on as the Vikings reversed the four goal difference in a 5-1 thrashing of the Hawks to claim a sectional crown and move into this week’s district tournament at Ottawa Hills.
The Vikings will face unbeaten Genoa in the opening round.
Prior to the game, Peete told a certain reporter that, “you’ll have a good story to write about after this one.”
It took just 42 seconds for him to make good on his call.
Peete took Tyson Woodring’s pass to the left wing all the way to the end line and fired a shot that went between Hawk goalie Ehsan Darr’s legs and into the opposite side of the net for a 1-0 Viking lead.
“We had been struggling with that left side a little bit,” Viking Coach Dave Skoczyn said of the spot where Peete was in this match. “And about four or five games ago I told him, ‘Hey Alex that has to be your spot.
“When I looked at Maumee Valley a couple weeks ago I thought their outsides were vulnerable. So that was our game plan going in and you saw how well it worked.”
Woodring had a hand in the next goal as well when he sent a pass upfield, floating against the wind that Riley Dunbar caught up to, headed to himself, and left-footed the ball into the right side of the net to make it 2-0 with 30:32 still to play in the first half.
Evergreen goalie Jon Burnep didn’t have to handle too many difficult chances, but Asa Karns had a great look using a screen after a corner kick that Burnep garnered with 21 minutes left.
Karns had another chance on a crossing pass, but Brock Hudik picked him and cleared the ball a few minutes later.
However, the third time was the charm as with 13:54 left, Karns ripped a shot off a bouncing ball that eluded Burnep to slice the evergreen lead to 2-1.
Elijah Hernandez had a chance with a free kick seven minutes into the second half but his try sailed just over the crossbar.
But less than a minute later it was Peete again, this time with an angled header off Woodring’s throw-in to boost the Evergreen lead back to 3-1.
The Viking defense stood solid in the back and with 16:37 left, one more time Peete struck again, drilling a shot that Darr was able to bat away, but Dunbar was right there for the rebound and the fourth Evergreen goal.
Hernandez didn’t deliver on his free kick but with 8:35 left, bent a corner kick into the deep side of the net for the last Viking goal.
Meanwhile, Burnep surrounded three Hawk shots and batted away a corner opportunity to keep Maumee Valley off the board in the second half.
“These guys are kind of special,” Skoczyn stated. “They root for each other, they have each other’s back and at the end of the day I told them, ‘hey we get to practice on Monday now.’ And we get to go against an undefeated team in Genoa.
“We wanted to make a run in the tournament and get noticed and tomorrow at the district meeting we can say, ‘hey we just beat Maumee Valley 5-1 and hopefully people will take notice. (Maumee Valley) came right after us in the draw and we accepted the challenge. The first half wasn’t the greatest, we challenged them at half and they came out and did what they needed to do.”
Evergreen now stands at 14-3 on the season.