After the previous Saturday when both Vermillion soccer teams dominated opponents in their state tournament play-in games and went to Mitchell with momentum, the state tournaments themselves proved to be disappointing for both Tanager clubs.
The boys lost to Groton, 3-0, in the first round; lost to St. Thomas More of Rapid City, 4-3, in the consolation semifinals, but defeated Freeman Academy, 2-1, to capture seventh-place honors.
The girls never did find the net and were shut out three times, losing first to Harrisburg, 1-0; then to Belle Fourche, 5-0, and finally to Mitchell, 1-0, in their seventh-place game.
The boys' second-day loss to St. Thomas More was the toughest to take since Vermillion had a 3-0 halftime lead on a trio of goals by Nate Samudzi. However, they had to play into the strong wind in the second half. The Cavaliers capitalized on their advantage, tying the game and then scoring the go-ahead goal with about two minutes remaining.
The seventh-place victory was a nail-biter, too, but had a more positive ending. Freeman Academy had a 1-0 lead until Tanner Settles scored on a header off a Samudzi assist with just over five minutes left. The game went into overtime, and Samudzi scored the winner off an Andrew Kost assist with eight minutes remaining in the extra period.
Girls coach Dave LaCombe was hoping his girls could upset No. 2 Harrisburg in their first-round game Thursday, and it just about happened. The game remained a scoreless tie after a Vermillion goal was nullified by an offsides violation early in the second half. Harrisburg got its only goal of the game – and the only one it needed – at the 78-minute mark.
"The team played probably their best game this whole season," LaCombe said. "The wind was definitely a huge factor as we had to play differently in the second half. The team played their hearts out. We exhausted all our strength against Harrisburg, and it showed in the second game."
Both Tanager teams are relatively young although the athletes they lose via graduation contributed substantially to their respective clubs. The boys team will lose Andrew Kost, Brendan Raizola, Michael Brunick and Nick Britten to graduation. Christine Epping, Shelby Gregoire and Katie Wasley will graduate from the girls' roster.