The Swan Valley boys soccer team traveled to Valley Lutheran on Monday and came back with the first conference championship in program history, as the Vikings beat the Chargers 2-1 to lock up the TVC Central crown.
Swan Valley, which has yet to lose this season, finished league play at 6-0-2, while Valley Lutheran finished second with a 5-2-1 conference record.
“Quite a milestone,” Swan Valley coach Jamie Dole said of Monday’s accomplishment. “It’s awesome. The boys deserve it.”
Swan Valley started slow Monday, allowing a Valley Lutheran goal by T.J. Drinan six minutes into the game. However, the Vikings responded with two unanswered goals, the first of which came off the foot of JR Bundia midway through the first half.
Collin Dole scored what turned out to be the game-winner about 11 minutes into the second half.
“We talk about going through adversity and playing through it,” Jamie Dole said. “Tonight, we came back and won the match. I’m proud of the way they played. It was a tough team to play on their field. They showed a lot of toughness and ability to overcome adversity, and that bodes well heading into districts.”
On the Valley Lutheran side, the Chargers knew what was on the line entering Monday’s game. A win would have created a tie atop the conference, but anything less gave the title to Swan Valley. That meant the pressure turned up for Valley Lutheran once the Vikings put home their second goal to take the lead.
“We had to change tactics, because we had to score two to win,” Valley Lutheran coach Doug Guenther said. “But we didn’t get too many opportunities. Once they got that lead, they played very hard to protect that. Shots were pretty even, so was possession and we expected that kind of game.”
Swan Valley’s win Monday ends a run of two straight conference titles for Valley Lutheran. While disappointed with the second-place finish in the league, Guenther said the Chargers have other goals and will continue working toward them when they play their final two regular season games Wednesday and Thursday.
“We are trying to get better, league championship or not,” Guenther said. “We are playing for next week and for the state tournament. We certainly don’t want a loss, but if that helps us reevaluate and get better, we will learn from this.”
Swan Valley also has eyes set on the postseason, and the Vikings will look to continue to build momentum at home Thursday against Caro in the regular season finale.
“We came in this year with a bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Jamie Dole said. “We are going to work toward our next goal, which is a district championship.”