Every so often an event comes along that shakes the lives of the few men and women who are fortunate enough to be present. Sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, witnessing a live Jimi Hendrix performance, and bounding on the moon’s surface are events that come to mind here.
The epic upset witnessed by the passionate, extremely partisan crowds on Tuesday at Whiting Field is not to be excluded from this coveted list.
If the LU men’s soccer team hadn’t yet finalized their candidacy for Midwest Conference Champion, they did so in thrilling fashion with a monumental 1-0 upset victory over visiting St. Norbert College.
The Vikings came in portraying the role of the underdog, little man Howard Dean, with defending MWC champion Norbert’s akin to George W. Bush. The Green Knights had been perfect in conference play this year. They also had a 14-match unbeaten streak against the Vikes dating back to 1989.
The visiting side came out confidently, with an organized attack comprising both aerial crosses and an attack up the middle using quick passes and dribbling. Nothing would fall for them, however, strongly due to the immense pressure from LU defenders.
If there was a portrayal of textbook zone defense, the quartet of freshmen Michael Sloop and Nate Reynolds and juniors Cris Salvati and Brett Suhayda exhibited it throughout the full 90 minutes.
Shifting quickly to the presence of the ball greatly inhibited the Green Knights’ ability to capitalize on their graceful ball movement. Perhaps even more impressive was the fullbacks’ adherence to attackers on crosses, causing countless errant headers.
LU also seemed to be winning more 50-50 balls in the air near midfield, previously a weakness to their game. Junior Adam Miner, a usual starter at forward, used his height at an outside midfield position to get first touches, complementing Brian Harks and the tenacious Brian Payne.
The lone score came off the foot of Harks in the 41st minute with assists going to Sloop and Cole Brittain. The shot came from about 20 yards out and seemed to hover in the air like any climactic sports movie finale before dipping into the lower corner.
In this instance the film was not to be concluded, as the ball skipped past the Norbert goalie.
The second half became the “Viking Defense Show Hosted by Chris Perry.” The keeper’s immaculate play in both halves highlighted the game. His aggressiveness rose to the occasion and paid enormous dividends for the Vikings. Undoubtedly, the game would not have gone the same without his impeccable field sense.
The Vikings had limited chances in the second half and relied mainly on quick counterattacks which very nearly ended in a couple more goals.
The Vikings ended their home season Tuesday evening undefeated at home in the MWC and to the tune of ecstatic fans rushing the field in glee. This being the final home game, the three graduating seniors, Brian Payne, Mark Wendling and Jesse Belcher were introduced before the game. Perhaps senior manager Dimitri Gooden stated things best when he noted, “It was a blue day for the Green Knights.