Vikings win HAAC Tournament crown

Monday, November 12, 2018
Sophomore Sergio Toro Garcia's third game-winning goal of the season gave the Vikings the HAAC Tournament title. (MVC Athletics)

FAYETTE -- The eighth-ranked Missouri Valley College men's soccer team defending its Heart of America Conference Tournament championship Saturday with a 2-1 decision at No. 3 Central Methodist.

Sophomore Sergio Toro Garcia scored both of the Vikings' goals, but not until after they fell behind early. The Eagles, who played Valley to a scoreless tie during their regular season meeting, got on the board with their first shot on goal of the match in the ninth minute as senior Adrian Gutierrez converted a pass from sophomore Rodrigo Paredes.

The Vikings began asserting themselves, getting the next seven shots -- four of them missing the frame and three saves by junior goalkeeper Vince Gelei. After two off-the-mark Methodist attempts, Valley broke through in the 24th minute on a shot by Toro Garcia.

Gelei stopped an attack by freshman Ruben Jiminez two minutes later and the Vikings' defense prevented two kicks from going into its net, with sophomore Juli Moras Fernandez and junior Alex Cordon both turning aside CMU bids -- the latter in the closing seconds of the half.

Valley missed two attempts early in the second half before Toro Garcia broke the deadlock off a Jiminez feed in the 12th minute.

That would be the Vikings' last on-goal shot of the game, but Methodist wasn't done. The Eagles got their first shot on goal of the contest from sophomore Guzman Pery midway through the period, and another one from Pery eight minutes later, but senior Patrick Irankunda saved both.

The last chance for Central Methodist (17-2-2) was by Gutierrez with five minutes remaining, but Jiminez stopped it.

It was the fourth tourney title for Valley under head coach Vladimir Simic, who secured his 199th career win. The Vikings (14-3-3) return to the NAIA National Tournament for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, having reached the finals a year ago, and will play an opponent to be announced Monday in the first round -- probably on their home pitch Saturday.

Women's Basketball

The MVC women's basketball team asserted control after the first quarter and ran away from Hannibal-LaGrange to win their home opener Saturday, 77-51.

The Lady Vikings won for the first time this season, giving new head coach Andre Scott his first career victory, by shooting a season-high 49.2 percent from the field and limiting the visitors to 32.7-percent shooting -- 10 of their 35 misses the result of blocks, three by senior Hilma Mededovic.

The Lady Trojans led twice during contest, the last time by three points with 5:42 remaining in the opening period. That lasted all of 13 seconds before senior Jaylah Jackson, a transfer from South Dakota State, tied the game with a three-pointer.

Jackson was far from done. She would lead Valley in scoring for the second game in a row with 24 points, including a lay-up put her team up by five points by the end of the first frame. After another Jackson bomb put the Lady Vikings up by eight points, Hannibal-LaGrange scored eight in a row to tie the score with 4:29 left in the half.

Jackson made the next three shots and tallied nine points the rest of the half to send Valley into the break with a nine-point lead. She opened the second half with an outside jumper and the Lady Vikings rolled along unimpeded from there, the margin never less than eight points.

Sophomore Emma Anderson led the Lady Trojans (1-3) with 19 points and nine rebounds.

The Lady Vikings (1-3) enjoyed a big 32-6 scoring advantage from its bench, topped by junior Sierra Adams' 14 points. They will open the Heart of America Conference campaign Wednesday at 22nd-ranked Benedictine.

Men's Basketball

LINCOLN, Ill. -- The Valley men's basketball team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday during a non-conference clash at Lincoln (Ill.).

The Vikings led by as many as four points in the game, that coming in the opening three minutes. However, the Lynx out-scored them by 18 points over the next 12 minutes and took a five-point lead into halftime.

Lincoln wouldn't break away, but stayed in front -- thanks to its outside shooting, which converted 14 of 33 three-point attempts -- compared to Valley's eight of 22.

The Lynx (3-2) had four players score in double figures, getting especially strong performances from junior Trayvon Tyler with 17 points, seven assists and four blocked shots and senior Julian Powell with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Vikings (2-1) were paced by senior Larry Plummer's 20 points. They travel to Benedictine to begin Heart of America Conference play Wednesday.

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