Vermillion soccer clubs dominate

Christine Epping of the VHS varsity soccer team advances the ball downfield past a Huron defender during action Saturday in Cotton Park.

Vermillion teams began play Thursday at the state varsity soccer tournaments in Mitchell after both Tanager clubs dominated their opponents to perform a doubleheader playoff sweep at Cotton Park on Saturday.

The Tanager girls, after eliminating Huron 6-0 in their play-in game, ended up as the seventh seed in the state "A" girls tourney field and were to face No. 2 Harrisburg at 2 p.m. Thursday.  Vermillion's Friday opponent will be Belle Fourche or Sturgis – at 11:30 a.m. in a losers' bracket game or at 4:30 p.m. in the championship semifinals.

Saturday's four place games to end the girls' tournament are at 11:30 a.m. for the seventh-place game, 9 a.m. for the fifth-place game, 2 p.m. for the third-place game and 4:30 p.m.for the championship contest.

The Tanager boys, after breaking away from a 1-1 tie with Hot Springs in their play-in game, became the fifth seed at the boys "A" tournament and were to opoen against No. 4 Groton Thursday.  On Friday the Tanagers would play at 9 a.m. in a loser's bracket game or at 2 p.m. in the semifinals against No. 1 Huron or No. 8 St. Thomas More.

Saturday's four place games in the boys' tourney are at 9 a.m. for the seventh- and fifth-place games, 11:30 a.m. for the third-place game and 2 p.m. for the championship.

Fans at home can check for tournament scores by accessing www.southdakotasoccer.com.

Saturday's girls' play-in game took awhile to develop as Vermillion had only a 1-0 lead at halftime.  Christine Epping scored at the 29:00 mark off a corner kick from Tory Gregoire to get that advantage.

But five second-half goals and a sturdy defensive effort produced Vermillion's third shutout of the season.  Allie Mockler's first goal of the year came off a crossing pass from Sophia Taggart at the 33:10 point of the second half to give VHS some comfort zone.  Then came unassisted goals off the feet of Epping, Katie Kost, Sowmya Ragothaman and Mackenzie Gale.

Meanwhile, Katie Wasley recorded eight saves in goal.  She and fellow seniors Epping and Shelby Gregoire played their last home game for the Tanagers.

"We just played better in the second half," said Coach Dave LaCombe in crediting everybody on his defensive unit.  "There was more energy in the game."

Alex Robertson had an unofficial six saves in goal for the Tanager boys who found themselves in a tough 1-1 tie with Hot Springs after the first 15 minutes.  Nate Samudzi scored on a wide-open shot at 37:17, but the Bison answered seven minutes later.

But Ethan James converted a Samudzi assist for a permanent lead at the 4:40 mark, and a crushing goal to the Hot Springs cause came with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half when Samudzi slammed home a rebound of his own shot that the Bison keeper had managed to deflect.

Samudzi scored again 10 minutes into the second half, and Tanner Settles made it a final of 5-1 at the 23:00 mark.

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