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Vikes top Champs for first time since 2016

By WILL CARTER ~ Sports Writer
Posted 5/2/23

BELL BUCKLE — In a heated cross-county battle on the soccer pitch Friday night, the Community Vikings took control early against the Cascade Champions, and held on for a 3-1 victory for their …

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Vikes top Champs for first time since 2016


BELL BUCKLE — In a heated cross-county battle on the soccer pitch Friday night, the Community Vikings took control early against the Cascade Champions, and held on for a 3-1 victory for their first over the Champions since 2016. 
After the Champs’ (5-5-1, 4-2) 4-2 win over the Vikes (6-3-1, 3-2) in their first meeting this season, head coach Jesse Cooper made some tactical adjustments that led to more control in their favor. 
“We controlled the ball a lot better tonight than we did the first time we played them. We switched up formations and moved some guys around, and there was a lot more control in the middle with that,” Cooper said. “We dominated in the first half, but started to drop a little bit in the second half. Cascade started getting more possession, but maintained enough to put some pressure on and get the win.”
Before the second meeting between the two rivals, Cooper made sure his squad knew the historical significance of beating the Champions, and urged them to play with some Viking pride. 
“Cascade has been a huge thorn in our side historically. The last couple times we were out here were bad losses, so I told the guys to play with some pride. Go play with some respect, and they did.” he said. “This is a huge momentum shift for us.” 
Community opened the contest quickly by working the ball side-to-side to create multiple chances at goal within the first 10 minutes, including a shot from 12 yards out that Champion goalie Nick Harris was able to block and get cleared away. 
Harris made eight saves on the night. 
A minute later, the Vikings were awarded a corner with 18 minutes remaining in the first half, and Ramon Hernandez rose up to get his head on the ball for a goal from six yards away to make it 1-0. 
While the Champions didn’t come out of the gates with as much energy as head coach Glenn Tidwell was hoping for, they were able to create some chances at goal in the final 15 minutes of the first half, though none were successful. 
“Well if we had played how we did in the second half, in the first half, I think it would have been a little bit different,” Tidwell said. “We start off slow for some reason, and have to have some sort of adversity to get us going. We responded energy wise tonight, just not goal wise.”
In the waning minutes of the first half, Community midfielder Alex Domingo played a ball inside the box that Harris mishandled, and Jack Whitaker was able to clean it up to give the Vikings a 2-0 advantage heading into halftime. 
Cascade opened the second half with more vitality, and it led to a free kick in Community’s half within the first five minutes. 
Ivan Draine took the free kick for the Champions – playing it inside the box – but Reily Anica was able to corral it for the Vikings.
Less than 10 minutes later, the Vikings went on the attack down the right side where they crossed it into the box for what would have been a goal if the Champions’ back line didn’t scramble to clear the ball off the line. 
It was a different result on the attack that followed. 
With 20 minutes remaining in the match, Community took control of the ball near midfield and made a run down the right side for another cross inside the box, but this time Nicky Anica was able to finish it off for a 3-0 lead. 
“We got the ball to the wing where we have confidence. I told him if he gets one-on-one then to take it. He was able to take his guy down the side to play a beautiful ball,” Cooper said. “It was a great finish by Nicky. When we scored that goal, I felt like we were going to walk away with the win. I was still reserved a little bit because Cascade is a really good team. I knew they could come back at any moment.”
Cascade wasn’t able to come all the way back from down three goals, but they were able to apply some pressure to Community with a goal from Ivan Draine with 16 minutes left in the match. 
Draine gained possession near midfield, and made a few moves with the ball before taking a shot from 35-plus yards away that deflected off a defender and bounced over Anica’s grasps to make it 3-1. 
It was a back-and-forth affair for the remaining 15 minutes with both squads moving the ball around on the pitch, but the Vikings prevailed in the end for the huge District 6-AA win. 
If the loss wasn’t enough motivation for the Champions, Tidwell emphasized the possibility of facing the Vikings again in the district tournament to his squad after the game. 
“I told the guys that we’re probably going to see them again in two weeks, so if this loss doesn’t get in your gut a little bit then I don’t what will. So we better be ready to play them again,” he said. “We beat them this same time last week, but they came ready to play tonight. Coach Cooper told me they haven’t beat us since 2016, so I guess we’ll have to start a new record. ”

Community 2 1 — 3
Cascade 0 1 — 1

Comm: Ramon Hernandez (18 minutes left, first half), Jack Whitaker (1 minute left, first half), Nicky Anica (20 minutes left, second half).
Cas: Ivan Draine (16 minutes left, second half).