For the first time ever, the high school soccer playoffs come to Vermillion this weekend, but fans will have to choose between the Tanagers' game and the Dakota Day football game to see them.
The Vermillion boys, on the strength of two wins last weekend, finished the regular season as the state's No. 2 seed with seven wins, no losses and three ties. The Tanagers will host No. 15 seed Douglas at Cotton Park at 3 p.m. Saturday, and the winner advances to next week's state tournament in Mitchell Oct. 7-9.
Meanwhile, in Class "A" girls soccer, where the top six teams in the state's power points automatically qualify for the state tourney, the Vermillion girls are already in as the No. 6 seed. They will play No. 3 seed Belle Fourche on opening day of the state classic Oct. 7.
In Class "A" boys soccer the final seeding points have created some horrendous travel situations. In seven of the eight matchups, the lower seed has to travel across the state for its game – Belle Fourche to Sioux Falls Christian, Douglas to Vermillion, Lead-Deadwood to Huron, St. Thomas More to Harrisburg, Mitchell Christian to Sturgis, Hot Springs to James Valley Christian and Mitchell to Custer. In the other playoff game, at least both teams are on the same side of the state – Freeman Academy and Groton.
The ease with which the Tanager boys dismantled their two much younger and very much outmanned opponents last weekend was somewhat embarrassing. Vermillion whipped Douglas 13-0 on Friday night and scored 24 times in another shutout over Lead-Deadwood Saturday.
Five minutes into the Douglas game it was all over in a flash after Nathan Samudzi tipped in a loose ball from in front of the net and seconds later Levi James fired a bullet high into the net. At 14:00 James tapped in a cross from Tyler Osborne. Ethan James scored for a 4-0 lead.
At the 29:00 mark Samudzi scored into the left corner off Tanner Settles' perfectly placed corner kick. Samudzi then got free on a breakway and scored on a one-on-one battle with the Douglas keeper. A header by Levi James made it 7-0, and James scored again to end the first half.
Two minutes into the second half Levi James scored on a tremendously powerful kick into the high right corner from 20 yards out. Brendan Raizola joined the goals parade, then Samudzi scored twice, both times on similarly successful feeds from Settles.
A Levi James grass-cutter from 10 yards out completed the scoring at 13-0, giving him six goals to Samudzi's five for the day. Austin Reich came within inches of scoring, but his rocket at the end of a fast break caromed off the left post.
Keeper Alex Robertson had little to do at his end of the field as the VHS defense kept Douglas almost totally restricted to its own half. Robertson didn't have his first save until the 82:00 point.
Depending on one's point of view, things were even better or worse against Lead-Deadwood. Osborne started the avalanche, tapping in a goal from among a crowd in front of the net. Brendan Raizola made it 2-0, and Samudzi scored twice. An own goal by the Golddiggers helped the Tanager cause, then the James boys – first Ethan, then Levi – scored. Osborne again, Levi again and a head-on shot by Samudzi made it 10-0 at the half.
On a throw from the sidelines by Eric Storm, Samudzi started a 14-goal second half. Camden Raizola scored off a missed shot from Ethan James. Samudzi then slammed one home from 15 yards out. Ethan James' goal made it 14-0.
Storm converted a penalty kick, then Storm scored on a picturesque header off a pass from Samudzi. A minute later, it was a carbon copy of the previous play except on the other side of the net as Levi James scored with his head off a Samudzi feed. Levi completed his scoring for the day at the 65:00 mark with his fourth goal.
The Diggers changed goalkeepers, but it didn't matter much. Ethan James scored at 72:00, then Tanner Anderson went on a wild 15-minute streak during which he scored four times, first on a rebound after the keeper had stopped his first shot, then on a header from Ethan James' pass in from the sidelines, then on a straight-on goal after he juked the keeper out of position, and then on a feed from Michael Brunick. In the midst of the four T.A. goals, Sam Tigert took his turn.
The loneliest man on the field, VHS keeper Robertson, touched the ball only four times in the 90 minutes.
The Tanager girls lost to the state's No. 1 seed, West Central, in Hartford 7-0 last Tuesday night. Vermillion's game at Sioux Falls Christian Thursday was weathered out. VHS goes to the state tourney with a record of three wins, four losses and two ties.