Pelican team honors Minnewaska coach Solum

PHOTOS COURTESY Susanna Coronado and Maria Martinez

Due to scheduling congestion, the Pelican Rapids Boys soccer team was forced to play four matches in seven days versus some of the top teams in the northern half of Minnesota. 

This, paired with the fact that one of their top players, Sidiiq Farah, was in concussion protocol and numerous other Vikings were out with injuries, the week figured to be a challenge to say the least. 

Saturday – Pelican Rapids 0 – 1 Minnewaska

Daniel Urbano celebrates 1st goal against CMC.

Rather than wearing their usual orange and black warm-up gear, the Vikings chose to wear blue warm-up clothes to this game to show support for Minnewaska teacher and coach Trevor Solum as he battles cancer. 

Solum has family in the Pelican Rapids area and is a good friend of Vikings head coach John Peter. Much of Solum’s influence has led to more intentional leadership training this past year within the Vikings’ Soccer program, so the players and coaching staff felt moved to show support in return to Trevor. 

Despite the injuries within the squad, the Vikings played well defensively throughout the match, holding the Lakers to only one shot on goal. Abraham Gonzalez was particularly dominant defensively, both winning balls in the air as well as distributing a near-perfect 38/40 passes during the game. 

With just under 7 minutes to play, however, an errant pass from Arturo Zavala found its way to Jonathan Mondragon, Minnewaska’s striker, and he wasted no time in burying the ball in the back of the net for the winning goal. 

Monday – Pelican Rapids 0 – 5 Moorhead

Facing one of the best teams in the state at the black hole, the self-described name of the Moorhead Spuds field, the Vikings’ got inventive and tried a new formation. Despite giving up an early goal, the Vikings held firm, and 20 minutes into the second half, the game remained 1-0. However, shortly after this, the Spuds added two more goals before adding a final two goals in the remaining five minutes of play. Despite the score line, Arturo Zavala was sensational in goal, keeping the game close and directing his team. 

Tuesday – Pelican Rapids 0 – 1 Crookston

Hamse Mohamed (7) looks for space downfield.

After dropping three matches in a row for the first time in over five years of program history, Tuesday’s match against conference and section opponent seemed like a “must win” situation for the Vikings. But an early goal by Crookston put the Vikings in a hole, and the Vikings were never able to find the right combination to generate a goal. 

“We have to remember that a lot of these teams have been improving greatly the past few years and have also taken a beating from us. They see that with our injuries, we might be vulnerable and they are going to bring their absolute best. Coach Boike and his players were prepared tonight and we need to do a better job of preparing ourselves for what teams will bring,” said a disappointed head coach John Peter after the match. 

Friday – Pelican Rapids 3 – 0 Central Minnesota Christian

If Tuesday was “must win,” then Friday night was a fork in the road for the Vikings and their season. 

The Vikings welcomed a new opponent to Pelican Rapids in the form of Central Minnesota Christian, a team from Prinsberg, MN, and the 9th best team in the state, according to the QRF. The Vikings had made significant changes to their line-up, with the available players they had, in hopes of generating some more offensive opportunities. 

Early on, both the execution and spirit of the team were noticeably better, and in the 25th minute, Daniel Urbano finally broke a goalless spell that had lasted nearly five matches. From there, the Vikings’ defense looked to control the game as captain Abraham Gonzalez led one of the top defensive performances of the season. 

In the 75th minute, as the Vikings looked to run out the game, they were provided with a free kick which Urbano played quickly, catching the CMC goalkeeper off his line and giving the Vikings a 2-0 leader. Shortly after, Yahir Diaz was taken down in the box, and Abdirahman Khalif was able to convert the subsequent penalty to give the Vikings a 3-0 win and break the team’s longest losing streak since 2017. 

Soccer boys on the road 

Up next for the Vikings is a series of road matches against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, St. Cloud Cathedral, Fergus Falls, and Bemidji. 

The Vikings are also excited as they should be back to full strength on the injury front before the Hillcrest match on Tuesday, the 20th.