Boys soccer: Indians beat Vikings for first time since ’07 in Valpo Sectional
By Brandon Vickrey Post-Tribune correspondent October 9, 2013 9:28PM
Portage's Victure Mendoza, left, charges for the ball with Valparaiso's Jacob Devine Wednesday, October 9, 2013, at Viking Soccer Arena during round one of the Valparaiso Boys Soccer Sectional. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2013 12:33PM
VALPARAISO — Entering Wednesday night’s sectional semifinal, no player on the Portage soccer team had ever experienced a victory over Porter County rival Valparaiso. The Indians picked up their first win over the Vikings since 2007, and advanced to the sectional championship in the process, with a stunning 2-1 victory.
“The kids came into it and knew they could play,” Portage coach A.J. Monroe said. “They stayed even-keeled; they didn’t get too emotional when they scored, they didn’t get too down when they were scored against.”
The Indians (11-5-1) took the lead on a goal by freshman Joshua Gonzalez in the 14th minute.
The Vikings (10-4-2) regained the momentum when Luke Kovar scored early in the second half, but Matt Ford responded to put Portage in front for good. Ford trickled one past Valparaiso keeper Andrew Fletcher with 22 minutes remaining in regulation.
“I had no one on me and (Joe Huber) passed a great ball across the top,” Ford said. “It was a lucky volley.”
Sophomore keeper Cody Simmons withstood several late Valparaiso strikes and finished the match with 10 saves. Simmons took over in net halfway through his freshman season and has enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign.
“The sky is the limit for Cody,” Monroe said. “He was winning the balls in the air for us, which is very important. I think the most impressive thing for me was watching him deal with that adversity (several collisions with Valparaiso players) early on. He kept his head.”
According to Simmons, one obstacle he faced was a slippery playing surface.
“There was one (shot) toward the end where it went back post and I slid,” he said. “I thought it was going in, but it went off to the side.”
Joe Huber assisted on both Portage goals.
Valparaiso took the regular season meeting with the Indians in a penalty kick shootout after a scoreless regulation on Oct. 2 at the Warpath.
The loss ended the careers of 12 Valparaiso seniors.
“We didn’t come to play,” Vikings coach Danny Jeftich said. “We didn’t come prepared in the first half. We allowed the one soft goal, and after that we were chasing again. Their style worked.”
In Wednesday’s second game, Chesterton cruised to a 6-0 win over Hobart.
“We had to take care of our game,” Chesterton coach James Sensibaugh said. “Field conditions were not ideal, so one thing we talked about was playing smart and playing disciplined.”
The Indians and Trojans will meet in the sectional championship at 5 p.m. on Saturday.