Pie Girls win U-19 state soccer championship A fitting culmination to the 10-year anniversary of the Vermillion Youth Soccer League took place on June 4 with the crowning of the league's first state championship team.
The Vermillion Pie Girls, playing in the U-19 Division, claimed the state title with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Rapid City in the championship match.
The Tanagers began pool play on Friday with a 3-0 victory over Mitchell. Twenty-one shots produced goals by Brandi Rada, Hilary Pederson and Jena Gilkyson. Shawna Baron earned the shutout in goal, assisted by the back line of Tressa Olson, Kaylee Heesch and Gilkyson.
In Friday's second match, the Pie Girls dominated a weak Groton team by a score of 6-0. Goal scorers were Pederson, Kim Hoffman, Courtney Nelson and Kelly Peterson with three. Baron again handled goalkeeping responsibilities and earned a second shutout.
Facing Sioux Falls Saturday afternoon, the Pie Girls again cruised to a 6-0 victory. Highlights of the match included two spectacular goals by Carly Bernard on shots from the left flank. Rada found the net with a free kick from 24 yards out. Baron and Pederson shared time in the net during the match.
In quarter-final action, the Pie Girls encountered a very determined Pierre team that provided a stiff obstacle in the path to the semi-finals. Although Vermillion penetrated the Pierre midfield easily, the going became very tough near goal with Pierre bunkered down in defense.
The Pie Girls struggled to find a passing rhythm to create shots, but managed a 1-0 victory with a goal by Rada in the 73rd minute. Baron and Pederson were again in goal for the Pie Girls.
Facing the Yankton Gazelles in the semi-final match on Monday, the Pie Girls were aided by the return of defender Mandy Winckler to the lineup. Excellent back line play of Winckler and Heesch, assisted by the speed of Gilkyson kept Yankton all-state striker Tammy Stempel from taking a single shot on the Vermillion goal.
A 4-0 thrashing was achieved by the Pie Girls on the strength of two goals by Ashley VanHemert, one by Kayla Larson, and one by Rada. Brittany Sand and Pederson tended goal during the match.
Bruises and sore muscles accompanied the players to the field for the championship match against Rapid City, however the team was elevated by the fact that sweeper Amy Petekavich was able to play for the first time in the tournament.
Rapid City proved to be a very physical team, mounting a defensive effort that proved equal to the Pie Girls' attack. A ball shot into the goal by Tara Job late in the first half was disallowed by the referee when time was called to end the half.
Entering the second half with a scoreless tie, the Pie Girls began to build an edge in possession and found their way into the defensive third of Rapid City with some regularity. Although several shots on goal were produced, the game remained tied until midfielder Hilary Pederson was fouled and found the net with a free kick from 19 yards out to seal a 1-0 victory and state championship.
Vermillion completed the six-game tournament without giving up a single goal.
"This was a very trying season in terms of player availability and as a result we did not train to the level that we might have," said Coach Jeff Pederson. "Nevertheless, with the quality of players that we had come forward and with the foundation that was laid during the fall high school season, there was a good deal of continuity, experience, and determination that came together to result in the championship. Several of the players and I have been active in this league since the beginning 10 years ago, and it is really gratifying to have together produced the first state championship for our league."