The Valparaiso High School Boys Soccer team was able to enjoy their Senior Night and final time playing at Viking Arena this evening by celebrating a 2-1 win over Portage with JV also winning over Portage 1-0. For several of the boys, Senior Night marked the beginning of the end of a 10-14 year span playing together though various Valparaiso and Northwest Indiana soccer programs.
Defenseman Anthony "Tony" Carpenter's senior season marks his 12th year playing soccer, as he began when he was six. Over the course of the years, he has played on a range of teams, from the New Lenox Park District, to the Valparaiso Soccer Club, to Northwest Indiana United and finally the Valparaiso Vikings. Tony shared that while he doesn't have one specific favorite memory from his years playing, his favorite moments have been spending time at hotels with his club team. Tony's number one fan in the stands is his father, as he coached him when he was younger up until he was about 12, and comes to every game. While he is unsure where he would like to go to college, Tony would like to continue playing soccer wherever he ends up, while also pursuing either Economics or History.
For Forward Jacob Wallace, who claims his best advice given to him in soccer over the years was "Don't smile so much," and who was voted "biggest team diva" by almost every other senior, his senior season marks 15 years of playing. Starting at the age of three playing for the Valparaiso Parks department, Jacob has also played for the Valparaiso Soccer Club, Millennium and NWI United over the past few years. His hard work both on the field and in the classroom during this time certainly shows, as he earned Indiana Academic All-State for Soccer. Jacob shared that his favorite memory of the year was hugging his best friend Billy (Yogan, the goalie) after defeating Michigan City in a PK shoot out. Jacob also shared that his dad is his special fan in the stands, as he coached him up until he was nine years old. He plans to attend either Indiana University or Purdue University in the fall, where he would like to continue playing soccer on a club team. Jacob also scored the winning goal over Portage in this evening's game.
Defenseman and Captain of the Vikings, Jarod Bradley began playing for the Valpo Soccer Club when he was six years old. He later joined the NWI United Futbol Club where he played defense. Jarod's hard work on every team he has played for is clearly distinguishable, as he was named All-Conference last year. His favorite memory of the season has been scoring the tying goal against Lake Central, although team mate Jacob Wallace was quick to kindly point out that "We didn't even win that game Jarod, so it really doesn't matter, but whatever." It is this same comical, fun nature with his team mates that has made the best part of playing soccer for the Vikings for Jared "spending four years with my best friends." Jarod's special fan in the stands is his grandpa, as he never misses a game and is always there to cheer him on. Jarod is currently looking at opportunities to continue playing in college, and is unsure where he would like to attend.
Perhaps the only senior who did not grow up on the Valpo soccer scene, but rather in Peru, Jose Apolo began playing club soccer at the age of 10 when he moved to Valparaiso. He joined the Valpo Soccer Club, and would later play for the NWI Futbol Club. During his time as a VHS soccer player, Jose shared that his favorite memories have been making the JV team his freshman year, as well as playing with Jacob Wallace. Jose's special fans in the stand are his whole family, who support him at every game. After graduating, Jose would like to attend either Syracuse University, Indiana University, or John Cabot University to pursue a degree in business administration and sports management.
Yet another player rising from the Valparaiso Parks department, midfielder Michael Deedrick has been playing since he was four years old. He continued on to play for the Valpo Soccer Club, as well as Northwest Indiana United, as an outside midfielder and center. Michael shared that while he didn't have a specific favorite memory, he has loved playing with all the same guys from such a young age to now. Michael says his special fan in the stands is his dad, and that his "soccer heroes" are his Mom and Dad because they have given him endless support throughout his entire life. Michael is unsure where he would like to attend, but says Indiana University is a possibility, and that he would like to potentially just play recreational soccer wherever he goes.
Another midfielder for the Vikings, Nicholas Pontrelli has also played since the age of four, when he started with the Valpo Parks Department. Nick then went on to gain more experience by playing for the Valparaiso Soccer Club and Millennium Vardar. Nick's favorite memory in his years playing was the feat of scoring a goal off his chest during the La Porte game freshman year, but he has also enjoyed providing his team with entertainment and humor. He has specifically "willed" his rapping skills to team mate Nate Dawson, to ensure his team is properly entertained and amused after he leaves. His special fans in the stands are his parents, as they have always encouraged him to work his hardest. After graduating, Nick would like to continue his education at either Indiana University or Purdue University to study science.
Known to his team mates as "Viper", defender Riley Owens has played soccer since the age of six. Like many of his fellow seniors, Riley began playing with the Valpo Parks Department, then continued into club soccer with the Valpo Soccer Club, and later Northwest Indiana United. His all-time favorite soccer memory was scoring two goals in the last game of his entire soccer season, while his favorite VHS soccer memory was his first Varsity start last year. Riley's special fan in the stands is his mom, who has always given him the advice to "just go out there and play YOUR game the way you always have. It has brought you success so far. What you plant now, you will harvest later." Riley does not plan on playing soccer in college, but would like to attend either Ball State University or Purdue University to major in Business Administration and Finance.
Being unique and skipping the Valpo Parks Department stage, defender Steven Fisher began playing at the age of five for the Valpo Soccer Club. Like several of his team mates, Steven also went on to play for NWI United, Millennium and Magic, where he learned to play several positions including forward, outside back, center back and stopper. Steven says that his favorite memory will always be scoring from midfield in a game...even though it was when he was 10 years old. Steven's consistent positive attitude on and off the field has earned him awards such as "Defensive MVP" and " Best Teammate" during his years as a Viking. While Steven does not think he would like to continue playing in college, he is planning to attend Valparaiso University to major in mechanical engineering.
Last but certainly not least, goalkeeper Billy Yogan began playing for the Valpo Parks Department when he was only three years old, marking this year as his fifteenth playing. Billy also has played on various club teams, such as the Valparaiso Soccer Club, United, Millennium Vardar and Magic. Billy shared that his favorite memories from playing for so many years have been winning the 2 PK shootouts that occurred this season, then hugging Jacob Wallace immediately following both. He loves everything about soccer that does not involve running, and claims that his favorite advice he receives from team mates is "Don't let them score!!" Billy's special fans in the stands are his parents, who have always supported him at every game from his early club soccer days to now. Ideally, he would like to attend Xavier University next year and play on a club soccer team there.
While this incredible group of senior boys brings in an amazing diversity of personality and leadership skills, if there is one thing they all have in common, it is the admiration their coach feels for each of them.
Coach Jeftitch shared, "This is a unique group of players...they've played together for a long time, so I witness the comradery and I witness their smiles and jokes. We do work hard, but we do have fun, and I will miss them for that. I wish them all the best and know that whatever they do, they'll do a good job, because they're hardworking people."