LANSING | Illiana Christian coach Chip Bevan knows what kind of a soccer team he has.
Bevan refers to his group as "mudders" and that's just the way the Vikings played in a 2-1 victory over Metro Suburban Conference foe Fenton Saturday afternoon.
"I told the boys at halftime that we're mudders," Bevan said. "Fenton usually plays on a turf field and they're not used to our kind of conditions. I said let's use it to our advantage. You couldn't ask for a worse condition day. The rain, the cold, the mud. I said let's run them into the ground. So we used that as our cheer, 'mudders', for the second half."
The Vikings (6-9-1, 3-6) trailed 0-1 after a first-half goal by Fenton's Pedro Lucatero. Windy and wet conditions forced plenty of loose balls and plenty of scoring opportunities for each team.
"The field's so wet you put the ball on the ground and it's going to take bad hops or skips," Illiana Christian's Britt Botterman said.
With less than 15 minutes to play in the match, the Vikings were able to tie the score at 1-1 after Mark VanderZee headed in a loose ball off of a corner kick in front of the Fenton goal. Teammate Nick Blink got a head on the ball just before VanderZee's header and was credited with the assist.
"It was off the corner," VanderZee said. "Blink headed it in and it came to my head and I headed it straight down. It just crossed over the line."
It seemed at first as if the referee was not going to allow the goal, but after a few seconds delay, the whistle was blown and the goal was allowed.
With under a minute left in the match, captain Botterman took a loose ball, gained a step on a Fenton defender, then fired a shot to the bottom left corner of the goal and past goalie Pedro Acuna.
"The ball just went my way," Botterman said. "So I had to put it on the ground and it helped."
The Vikings were able to play the role of spoilers and avenge an earlier loss in the season to Fenton.
"We had lost to them on their home field," Bevan said. "They were positioned to be in the running for the conference champions. We had a chance to be a spoiler today. We knew we couldn't win conference but I thought the boys came out and played excellent."