Tanager girls go 1-2 at state high school tourney The Vermillion Tanagers girls soccer team competed in the second annual State High School Soccer Tournament last Friday and Saturday in Pierre. After opening with a 4-0 shutout over Pierre, the Tanagers lost consecutive games to defending state champion Rapid City Stevens and Sioux Falls Roosevelt.
In the opening match, the Tanagers jumped out to a 2-0 half-time lead with goals from strikers Carly Bernard and Kayla Larson. The sweep of Pierre was completed with goals in the second half by midfielder Hilary Pederson and striker Megan Griffith. The Tanagers outshot Pierre 27-4, with goalkeeper Natasha Peton having a perfect day in the net.
Facing Stevens, the Tanager defense held for 20 minutes before surrendering the first of 12 goals for the match. The relentless Stevens attack proved to be too much for the Tanagers, with many scoring opportunities created by crossing passes and overlapping runs past the Tanager defense. The highlight of the match for the Tanagers came with speedy defender Amy Petekavich scoring two goals after moving to striker in the second half.
The third match of the tournament found the Tanagers faced with rival Sioux Falls Roosevelt in the opening game of the fifth-place bracket. Roosevelt scored first on a corner kick that bounced in off the back of the head of a player, and then followed with a second goal in the first half of the way to a 5-1 victory. Midfielder Pederson scored the lone goal for the Tanagers with a free kick from 35 yards away. Keeper Peton recorded several brilliant saves for the Tanagers during the match.
The Tanagers ended the year with a record of 9 and 9. Coach Jeff Pederson offered his comments on the season. "What we had anticipated to be a continuation of our victory successes of last year, actually became a rebuilding year for us. We lost a lot of versatility when senior midfielder Kim Hoffman went out for the season in the fifth game, and our injury woes were only beginning then," said Coach Peterson. "The Sioux Falls schools in particular anticipated our attacking posture, and we were not able to do many of the things that we did against them last year. Additionally, the Sioux Falls teams were much tougher this year with the addition of several top players who did not play high school soccer last year.
"On the positive side, our younger players received a good deal of match experience, and we were able to identify position capabilities in players that might not have otherwise developed," he added. "We did win the matches that I expected to win, with the exception of the Yankton match where we played without five starters."
Pederson cited the victories over Spearfish and Pierre as standing out in significance as well for overall team performance.
Looking ahead to next year, Pederson sees bright things ahead for the Tanagers. "We may have a majority of players on the field be seniors, and that collective leadership and experience will pay off. The area of the field that will be key is the interior midfield, where we need to replace our playmaker.
"Defense midfielder Nicole Pedersen does an outstanding job of disrupting the playmaking of opposing teams, and we need to add to that by putting more pressure on the ball during transition from attack to defense," he added.