When the Pelican Rapids Boys’ Soccer team began its current four-game road series, to say it was daunting would be an understatement.
The Vikings were set to face the three best teams in Section 8A as well as the Conference leading Bemidji Lumberjacks.
Hillcrest Academy 5 – 1 over Pelican Rapids
Tuesday, the road games kicked off with a short trip to Danielson Field at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.
Hillcrest has been rebuilding the past few seasons, and some would argue they have been rebuilding since Pelican Rapids broke away from their partnership to form their own team. But this year, Rod Jenson’s squad has been infused with numbers as he boasts the most Fergus Falls players since the co-operative agreement was still in existence.
Hillcrest wasted little time in jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Daniel Urbano pulled one back with eight minutes remaining in the first half, and the teams went to halftime 3-1.
However, quickly in the second half, Hillcrest added two more goals and would see a 5-1 victory, their first win over the Vikings since 2018.
“We were not mentally prepared to fight today,” said Head Coach John Peter afterward. “We let things like field conditions and weather dictate our focus and did not carry over what we have been working on in practice. We will need to raise our level if we are to be successful in the coming matches.”
St. Cloud Cathedral shuts out Viking soccer boys 2-0
In a rematch of last year’s Section Championship, the Vikings traveled to Whitney Recreation center to play St. Cloud Cathedral. The Crusaders were 7-1-0 coming into the match and rated the #7 team in the Coaches’ Association ranking. They were also the #1 team in the South half of Section 8A.
The Vikings indeed responded from their loss Tuesday and played toe to toe with the Crusaders before falling 2 – 0 on a pair of set piece goals.
Pelican edged by Fergus Falls 2-1
Two days later, the Vikings headed back to Fergus Falls to face the #1 team in the North half of Section 8A.
The Otters have seen tremendous improvement under head coach Joel Heikes over the past three seasons.
The Vikings’ improvement continued to show as their attack created chance after chance throughout the first half, but Otter goalkeeper Jaydon Manteufel was able to keep the Vikings off the scoreboard. In the 2nd half, the Vikings again continued to build through Jose Lopez’s strong midfield play, but Manteufel again kept the Vikings out before the Otters got on the scoreboard against the run of play when a scramble in front of the net resulted in an Abraham Gonzalez own goal. A few minutes later, the Otters extended the lead, but Pelican fought back with Abdirahman Khalif converting a penalty with 17 minutes to play to make it 2-1.
Down the stretch, the Vikings had numerous chances but were unable to find the magic to equalize and extend the match.
Up for the Vikings was a trip on Tuesday night to Lakes to Prairie Conference-leading Bemidji.
Soccer action concludes Homecoming week
The remainder of the week will be only the second time since August 31 that the Vikings will be able to practice two days in a row and not have another match to get ready for. The Viking boys host Hillcrest at 2 p.m. on Saturday to end a week of Homecoming activities.
The Pelican girls soccer team starts the afternoon on Brown Field, with a noon game—also against visiting Hillcrest.