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Sophomores help Vikings reach district title

By RICKEY CLARDY ~ Sports Writer
Posted 5/10/23

UNIONVILLE — With each team winning on its opponent's field in the regular season, Tuesday's District 6-A soccer semifinal tournament match between the Community Vikings and Cascade …

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Sophomores help Vikings reach district title


UNIONVILLE — With each team winning on its opponent's field in the regular season, Tuesday's District 6-A soccer semifinal tournament match between the Community Vikings and Cascade Champions looked to be close on paper with the winner continuing its postseason.
The game lived up to its billing with each team battling for all 80 minutes, but in the end it was two Viking goals not by their leading scorers but by two sophomores which paved the way for a Community 2-0 win over the Champs.
It was a game of close chances as the Champions were on the brink of scoring all game long but could not break into the scoring column.
After the Champs could not convert on an open goal situation five minutes into the game, Randy Anica of the Vikings lofted a 40-yard pass over the Champion defense in the eighth minute and hit the foot of Brody Ray. 
Ray took the ball 15 yards and found the back of the net to give Community (9-3-1) a 1-0 lead.
The county rivals continued to battle before a Viking shot narrowly missed the mark in the 32nd minute. 
The Champs had their best chance to score in the 38th minute, but a Cascade shot in front of an open goal was kicked away by a Community defender as the Vikings took their 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The halftime break brought a renewed vigor to both teams as the second half started. 
The Vikings were initially the aggressor for the first five minutes, but the Champs delivered a flurry of goal chances in the next five minutes but could not connect with the tying goal.
The Vikings maintained their precarious one-goal lead until the 76th minute when Community gained an insurance goal. 
Off a direct kick, Anica connected with Jacob Graham near the goal. 
Graham was able to slip the ball into the net to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
Despite a Champion direct kick hitting the crossbar, neither team could score the rest of the way as the Vikings took the win.
Reily Anica of the Vikings and Nick Harris of the Champions were effective as keepers during the match.
"This game had a little bit of everything," Coach Jesse Cooper of the Vikings said. 
"We had a great shot by a kid with his weak foot in the top corner. The other goal was an awesome little volley from another kid who hasn't scored that many this year."
"We had at least two goal line saves," Cooper added. "It was just a good game all around."
Cooper did not feel relaxed with the one-goal lead.
"I didn't feel safe until we scored that second goal, but even then I was worried Cascade was going to get one and they could have easily got another one to tie it up," Cooper said.
"They're a good team, and it was hard to beat them twice this year," Cooper added.
For Coach Glenn Tidwell of the Champions, it was a matter of numerous chances that did not connect.
"We had opportunities to score right in front of the goal, but couldn't get it in the net," Tidwell said.
"It's like the story out of us all year to be honest with you," Tidwell added.  
The second goal for the Vikings was a key goal in the game.
"That kind of deflated it right there," Tidwell said. "We didn't quit, but there wasn't much you could do to get caught up with two goals that fast."
"But we'll just regroup. We're still a young group so regroup and do it for next year," Tidwell added.
With the win, Community will travel to Forrest for the District 6-A championship Thursday night. 
The teams split two road contests during the regular season.
"We have an opportunity Thursday to get the first district championship the school's ever had," Cooper said.
"We go against a team we've lost to and we've also beaten. It's going to be a good game Thursday against Forrest," Cooper added.  
Cascade         0  0 — 0
Community     1  1 — 2
First Half
Comm — Brody Ray goal from Randy Anica (8th minute).
Second Half
Comm — Jacob Graham goal from Anica (76th minute).