With key players moving, Pelican finding new normal
In 2020, the boys’ soccer team at Pelican Rapids high school made a historic move forward as the team equaled its best regular season record before making a run all the way to the Section final in the 2020 Section 8A playoffs.
With only three players graduating (Khadar Ibrahim, Macho, and Jaime Zavala Franco), and a good summer of training, the assumption was that the Vikings would hit the ground running in match number one.
However, the mid-winter departure of Khadar Aden (family move) and the late summer departure of Abdi and Zaki Isse (family move) meant that the entire midfield from one year ago has moved on from the team and significant changes to the Vikings line-up would need to happen in order to fill out the line-up.
So when the Vikings appeared to stumble out of the blocks in their opening two games, there was more going on than just losses to tough opponents.
While the 5-3 loss to Grand Rapids and 2-0 loss to Alexandria were occurring, the Vikings were figuring out a new team chemistry, a new style of play and how to operate without last year’s key playmakers in the middle.
However, this past week, as the team opened conference and section play, the squad appeared to be settling into its new normal.
Vikings shut down
EGF by 8-0 score
The defending Lakes to Prairie conference champions, the East Grand Forks Green Wave came to town on the first day of school, Sept. 7.
It took just 4 minutes for Sebastian Centeno to get the scoring going as Lico Pedroza found him with a through pass. Five minutes later, Centeno was making the pass to Jesus Moreno to make it 2-0. With 12 minutes to play in the half, Hamsa Ishowa blasted a rebound into the top corner to make it 4-0. Two minutes later, Centeno again found the net as Mohamed Ahmed made a stunning pass to set Centeno free. Less than a minute later, the two connected again to bring the score to 5-0 at the half.
In the second half, Moreno, Ishowa and Abdul Ahmed all added goals as the final score was 8-0.
Down Detroit Lakes 4-1,
with one player down
due to penalty
Thursday, Sept. 9, the Vikings traveled to Detroit Lakes to square off against the Lakers in conference action.
Early on, Mohamed Ahmed found Sebastian Centeno who put the ball into the back of the net putting the Vikings ahead 1-0. A few minutes later, Centeno earn a free kick from the far right side and on the free kick was able to connect with Lico Pedroza who headed the ball into the net making it 2-0. Shortly after the Lakers answered when a breakdown in the Vikings’ defense occurred making the score 2-1.
Just before the half, Mohamed Ahmed created a great deception so that Daniel Urbano was able to find Sebastian Centeno who scored his second of the night to make it 3-1.
The tension of the day increased dramatically at the halftime whistle as Hamsa Ishowa earned a straight red-card for his two footed challenge on a Laker player. This caused the Vikings to play with only 10 men in the second half.
While the Vikings were able to control possession much of the 2nd half, it took until the final minute, when Mohamed Ahmed was taken down in the box by the Detroit Lakes goalkeeper, that the Vikings found another goal, pushing the final score out to 4-1.
Saturday, Sept. 11, the Vikings played their first opponent of the season from the new Section 8A as the Minnewaska Lakers came to town.
The Vikings were sluggish out of the gate and gave up a goal just 10 minutes in. Over the next 15 minutes, the Vikings continued to find their rhythm but with 10 minutes to go, a three-way substitution, paired with a formation change and some vocal guidance from the team captains, the Vikings came to life.
Daniel Urbano got the Vikings on the board with a blast from 40 yards out, followed by Sebastian Centeno’s goal less than a minute later and then immediately followed by Mohamed Ahmed’s goal less than two minutes from Urbano’s first goal.
In the second half, goals from Sebastian Centeno, Jesus Moreno and Yahir Diaz helped push the game to a 6-1 final.
PHOTOS BY LOUIS HOGLUND