It's come down to this for the Vermillion boys varsity soccer team — win Saturday or stay home from the state tournament next week.
As for the girls varsity, the pressure is off for this weekend — they came through their must-win game successfully last Saturday.
The Tanager boys stand ninth in the state power points standings, one slot short of state tourney qualification. They have to move up, and the best way to do that is to beat somebody ahead of them. For instance, sixth-ranked James Valley Christian, which comes to Cotton Park for a 4 p.m. faceoff Saturday. (The JV game starts at 2.)
The team directly above Vermillion, No. 8 Hot Springs, has to come east to play Sioux Falls Christian and Harrisburg, so perhaps the Tanagers can get some help from either or both of those East River teams, too.
The Tanager boys lost a 4-2 decision at Freeman Academy last Tuesday. The Vermillion goals were scored by Alex Thoms and Levi James.
James had a hat-trick day on Saturday as the Tanagers rebounded at Mitchell, skunking the Kernels, 5-0. Besides James' three scores, Tanner Settles found the net twice. Andrew Kost as goalkeeper kept Mitchell off the board.
Also at Mitchell Saturday, the Vermillion girls defeated Mitchell 3-2 in dramatic fashion, assuring themselves of a state tournament berth after missing the state classic last season.
The win, which moved Vermillion up to sixth place on the power points scoreboard, was seriouslly in doubt at halftime when the Tanagers trailed 2-0.
"Mitchell was clearly the better team for the first 60 minutes," said Coach Dave laCombe. "But after that the team seemed to come alive."
It started when Megan Bottolfson was taken down inside the penalty mark area, received a penalty kick chance and converted on it.
"That sparked the team as we had some players playing hurt," LaCombe noted.
Christine Epping made a hard challenge toward the goal and was fouled outside the penalty area. That gave Sophie Nehlich-Arobba a direct free kick, and she put that into the upper corner of the net for a stunning 2-2 tie.
The intense match remained tied until only two minutes remained. Hannah Nehlich-Arobba took a hard shot from 25 yards out, and it went in for what proved to be the winning goal.
Katie Wasley had six saves in goal for the Tanagers. LaCombe said Lacey Leichtnam, Shelby Gregoire, Tracy Howe and Kortni Walker had superb performances as they kept Mitchell from scoring throughout the second half.
The VHS girls go all the way to Groton Saturday for their regular-season finale, but it is a game which does not count in the power points.
Earlier last week the girls lost a 4-0 game against West Central.
Pairings for next week's state tournament at Aberdeen Oct. 8-10 will be known as soon as Saturday's games are recorded at www.southdakotasoccer.com.