For the third year in a row, the 12th-ranked Vikings made the cut for the NAIA Championship Series, after having never done so before. However, they're still looking for their first playoff win following Saturday's 1-0 first-round loss to No. 17 Hannibal-LaGrange at Gregg-Mitchell Field.
It wasn't like Valley didn't have its chances, out-shooting the Trojans by an 11-4 margin, but sophomore Logan Miller -- who played all but the final 38 seconds of the match -- didn't crack as his team posted its 11th shutout of the season.
Hannibal-LaGrange had a good look at the Vikings' goal in the fifth minute, but junior Mario Albero fired over the crossbar. Junior Nicholas Alexander nearly had a breakaway 10 minutes later for Valley, but Miller came out to smother the ball before a shot could be unloaded.
The Trojans connected in the 23rd minute during a scrum in the box. Valley junior Josh Wells dove to his left to reject an attack by sophomore Joao Junqueira, but the rebound came out to junior Felipe Silva -- who one-timed it past the sprawled Wells for his team-high 18th goal.
Miller stopped shots by Alexander and junior Alberto Linan Gomez before the half was over, but would be even more severely tested during the second period.
Freshman Carlos Berastain got off one drive and Linan Gomez had two attempts, but all were from long range. With 10 minutes remaining, Alexander nearly found the upper right corner before Miller leaped to knock away the ball.
As the clock wound down, the intensity of Valley's offense increased. Junior Fellipe Vurraro put a shot inside the right goal post, but freshman Enderson Leal was there for a non-goalie save. Moments later, a header by sophomore Tiago Ferreira was deflected by a Hannibal defender.
Berastain nearly caught up with a through ball, but Miller came out past the crease and collected the ball a nanosecond before a collision sent both players sprawling to the turf. Miller left the field, replaced by 6-foot-5 junior Colby Keller.
On the ensuing free kick, both teams tried to get their heads on a 50-50 ball -- which finally came down onto the foot of Valley freshman Kaique Negri. He got the shot off, but it went a foot over the bar with 14 seconds left, the Vikings not to get another opportunity.
Both Alexander and Linan Gomez had three shots on goals for Valley (12-7-2).
The Trojans (15-4) head to Montgomery, Ala., as part of the 16-team field for the championships, opening the tournament Nov. 16 against fourth-ranked Rio Grande (Ohio).