Soccer team ends season on high note

Soccer team ends season on high note The Lady Tanagers soccer team finished the season on a high note with a 3-1 victory over Sturgis to claim fifth place in the consolation division at the State High School Soccer Tournament this past weekend in Aberdeen.

In earlier tournament pairings, the Lady Tanagers lost close matches to Brookings and Watertown by scores of 3-0 and 3-1, respectively.

Junior Mara Johnson opened the scoring against Sturgis in the 23rd minute when she capitalized on a ball crossed in to the penalty area from fellow striker Emily Gamm. Morgan Brooks, playing in an attacking role for the first time this season, made a strong run past three Sturgis defenders and finished the second goal with a shot slotted nicely past the goalkeeper.

The third Tanager goal came late in the game when freshman Ariel Begley collected a loose ball in front of goal and sent the ball into the back of the net past an on-rushing Sturgis goalkeeper. Junior goalkeeper Sarah Christopherson had six saves in the match for Vermillion.

The Lady Tanagers ended their season with an overall record of two wins and 14 defeats, including a respectable 3-1 loss to eventual state champion Sioux Falls Lincoln. Additionally, the team had the distinction of playing in the first-ever soccer match on the new Howard Field Stadium turf in Sioux Falls and did very well in that game while being edged 2-1 by Sioux Falls Washington.

Next season appears very bright for the young team, who will lose no players to graduation. 2004 will also mark the return of speedy striker Emma Erickson, who was forced to sit out the entire 2003 season due to a broken leg.

Sixth-year coach Jeff Pederson summed up the season: "I really did not know what we had to work with going into this season, and the surprises never seemed to stop, both good and bad," he said.

"Losing Erickson to a broken leg was a huge blow, as was the loss of our senior goalkeeper with a season-ending injury in her first game," Pederson continued. "There were bright spots, including the decision by juniors Sarah Christopherson and Morgon Brooks to return to the game after a three-year absence, as well as the development of many of our younger players, particularly Jadee Hofer and Rosalie Mueller.

"With her quickness and tremendous coordination, replacement goalkeeper Christopherson covered the net as well as any goalkeeper we have had and with some training she can really round out her game," he added.

Ahead for the girls' high school program will be a decision as to which division to compete in for the coming years. Vermillion is the only small school that competes in the A (large school) Division, something that represents a competitive disadvantage which is magnified during rebuilding years.

"Although we lost 12 games this year, we were competitive in all but two or three," said junior Jamie Bernard. "We took a vote after our last tournament game, and everybody wants to stay up in the A Division for next year."

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