WARSAW | Going down 2-0 in the game of soccer is never an easy hole to crawl out of for any team.
Couple that with the fact Valparaiso faced that deficit before 30 minutes had passed in Saturday's Warsaw Semistate semifinal against Hamilton Southeastern, and that gap seemed much bigger as the Royals ended Valparaiso's season by that same 2-0 score.
"It's really hard to go down 2-0 (early) and then come back," Valparaiso senior Chase Holford said. "We tried to do it, but we just couldn't get one in there. That first goal is the hard one."
Hamilton Southeastern (12-7-3) got its first goal with 30:18 remaining in the first half, when Kyle Butler connected off a free kick.
"It was just a lack of clearance," Holford said. "It went through three of our guys without a clearance, and he just settled in and shot it."
Then, the dagger came with 10:46 remaining before halftime, when a handball was called against the Vikings in the box, resulting in an easy penalty kick goal from Zach Eagle.
The Royals' defense was then able to hang on for the final 50 minutes.
"They pressed us," Valparaiso coach Danny Jeftich said. "That PK was a downer. The second goal was very difficult. Any time you have to chase a game at this level, it's very difficult for the guys (emotionally and physically)."
The Vikings (18-3) couldn't get many attacks going offensively during the first half, as Jeftich admitted their passing was off.
As time ticked away in the second half, however, the Vikings kept threatening. Valpo's best chance at a goal came with 27 minutes left, when Isaac Withrow missed by about a foot over the crossbar.
"We grinded out the last couple games, and I don't think people thought we were going to make it this far," Jeftich said. "We've got a great group of kids returning next year. I'll miss my seniors, but our program is still up there."
Valparaiso goalkeeper Ethan Lehnen made six saves.