When you get six chances, you ought to capitalize on at least one. This is, after all, the playoffs.
The Montgomery Vikings won six corner kicks within the first 15 minutes of play Wednesday night against the visiting Tennyson Lancers, but it took five tries to find the back of the net.
Junior Carson Wyatt got his head on a ball sent in by sophomore Alan Soto in the 12th minute of the Division 2 North Coast Section soccer semifinal at Montgomery to put the fifth-seeded Vikings up 1-0. Despite a few stretches of disjointed play, it was never close after that.
The Vikings, winners 4-1, are on their way to the Division 2 NCS final game Saturday night, courtesy of a dominating performance in which the hosts outplayed the No. 9 seed Lancers in just about every facet of the game.
“I feel like these guys seized the moment,” Vikings coach Jon Schwan said. “I feel like they get the magnitude of what we’ve got. We have three more days together.”
In the area’s second year of winter soccer, the Vikings are going where no team has gone before. And they made it look relatively easy.
For much of the first half, it looked as if the Vikings would break the game wide open. Soto was moving the ball at will up the left side, creating all kinds of chances, but the Vikings’ inability to finish kept the score deceptively close.
With 14 minutes to play in the first half, junior midfielder Bryan Rosales beat his man and forced the Lancers’ goalkeeper to make a tremendous save, but the keeper could not contain the ball. It popped to the feet of Wyatt, who nailed his second goal of the night.
Still, with about 10 minutes to go in the half and the game firmly in the Vikings’ control, suddenly it wasn’t. The flow that had carried them for 30 minutes stopped. It was as if the DJ changed the tune on the dance floor and nobody told the home team.
The Lancers made them pay with six minutes to play, making it 2-1. More dangerous, it could have been a momentum shift going into halftime.
“All three games in playoffs, we have not closed out the first half and it bit us on this one,” Schwan said.
He wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings on the matter at the intermission.
“Our coach got into us,” Wyatt said.
Whatever he said, it worked.
The Vikings, as good teams do, found a solution on the field. The Lancers’ goal just before half could have been a game changer.
It was, just not for the Lancers.
“I’m very proud of the way we rebounded in the second half,” Schwan said. “We came out and seized the momentum. We took that out of them.”
A big chunk of the reinvigorated attack was thanks to the play of Soto and Rosales. The Lancers simply had no answer for Rosales, who slashed through the midfield, winning balls and slotting passes through slivers of space barely visible to the naked eye.
He was rewarded for his nifty work four minutes into the second half when he put the Vikings up 3-1. And it was Rosales again creating problems for the Lancers with 24 minutes to play when he sent a through ball to sophomore Calvin Perkins, who deftly dodged the Tennyson keeper to make it 4-1 and put the game well and truly out of reach.