Tanager soccer teams focus on state tourney berths

Can the Vermillion varsity boys soccer team complete the regular season without a loss?

Local fans can see for themselves when the Tanagers host their final two opponents at Cotton Park.  Douglas will be here at 5 p.m. today (Friday), followed by Lead-Deadwood at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Heading into these last two matches, the Tanagers rank fourth among 16 teams in the state Class "A" power-points standings with their record of five wins, no losses and three ties.  Sioux Falls Christian, Huron and Groton are the top three teams.  

The Tanagers would appear to have a great chance to go into the playoffs unbeaten if they can maintain their focus against the two teams from the Black Hills.  Douglas is 0-8 and is seeded 15th right now while Lead-Deadwood is 12th with a 2-6 record.

In Class "A" boys soccer every team has to win a playoff game next week to qualify for the state tournament.  The top eight teams will be at home, so the Tanagers seem safe in that regard.

Meanwhile in Class "A" girls soccer Vermillion's girls stood fifth among 10 teams with a record of three wins, three losses and two ties.  The top six automatically qualify for state without having to endure a playoff game.

The Tanagers didn't play last weekend, but this week they faced top-ranked unbeaten West Central on Tuesday and sixth-seeded Sioux Falls Christian last night, so their updated status can be checked out at www.southdakotasoccer.com.  The seventh and eighth teams in the power points will host a playoff game next week against the 10th and ninth seeds, respectively.

The VHS boys, who have scored 30 goals to their opponents' seven in their eight games, won 3-0 under cold, gray skies over James Valley Christian Saturday.

For most of the first half, the action took place in Vermillion's half of the field as the Tanagers kept pressure on the James Valley defense.  At the same time the VHS defense restricted the Vikings, for the most part, from getting the ball anywhere near the Tanager goal.

At the 34:00 mark Levi James broke free past the last James Valley defender and raced toward the goal with only the Vikings' keeper between him and a score.  He swerved left and right, working himself open for a clear shot and a 1-0 lead.

Only six minutes later Nathan Samudzi, seconds after just missing a spectacular backward cartwheel move that shot the ball just over the crossbar, scored to put VHS up 2-0.

That lead held up until the 71:00 point of the second half when Brendan Raizola headed the ball into the net off a Tanager corner kick.  That ended the scoring although the Tanagers' Eric Storm just missed a goal when his long shot caromed off the crossbar.

Both Tanager keeper Alex Robertson and James Valley's man in the net made a pair of superb saves in the second half of play.

The VHS girls teams played games that did not count in power points.  The JVs tied Mitchell late in the second half on a goal by Cheyenne Mallory, assisted by Janani Ragothaman, as the team played well as a unit.

The varsity girls took an early lead on an unassisted goal from Natasha Samudzi.  Later in the first half Tori Gregoire crossed a ball for Ragothaman and a 2-0 lead.  Mitchell scored once in the second half but couldn't catch up as Katie Wasley made a pair of saves in goal.

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