VALPARAISO | Great rivalries breed great crowds and atmospheres but also aggression and overzealous play.
Times No. 2 Valparaiso's five offsides penalties in the first 11 minutes of Wednesday’s rivalry tilt with visiting No. 3 Chesterton certainly attested to the over-eager attitude of the Vikings.
Once the Vikings steadied their footing without losing any of the amplified competitive juices, the middle of the field opened up for some breakaways, and the Vikings scored a barrage of goals a few moments apart and went on to beat their previously unscored-upon Duneland Athletic Conference brethren 3-0 at Viking Arena.
The Vikings (2-0, 2-0) now own a four-game winning streak against Chesterton.
Chesterton (3-1, 1-1) entered the game with no goals allowed in its first three matches, but Valpo senior Luke Kovar changed that trend in the 13th minute with a breakaway goal, his second of the season and first of two in the game.
"Usually when we play Chesterton they are the aggressive team," Kovar said. "We decided this game we were going to take it to them."
After having a goal waved off for an offside penalty, their fourth in a span of five to open the game, the Vikings had had enough.
"We couldn’t find a rhythm when we wanted to connect with our forwards, but we made an adjustment immediately," Valpo coach Danny Jeftich said. "We basically played through the midfield instead of over the top."
Kovar took a breakaway from near the midfield line and beat charging Chesterton keeper Caleb Gmyrek for the first goal.
"We saw they were playing the off-sides trap, and we took it to them and split that gap," Kovar said. "Then we had all the space in the world.
"It’s a really good feeling, but it doesn’t matter how we get wins, whether I score, get assists or just contribute."
In the 23rd minute, Kovar took a pass from Caleb Neal and again went straight at Gmyrek, this time with a defender draping off to Kovar’s side, and tallied.
Twenty seconds later, senior Brendan Sutherland chipped the ball over the keeper's head from the very top of the 18-yard box to account for the final score.
The huge lead for the Vikings, plus a dramatic drop in temperature and pressure, caused the second half to be played among a fog, by both the traditional and newly begrudgingly dictionary-approved meanings of literally.
Chesterton, which had a player earn a yellow card for a hard foul after the first Valpo goal, was not exactly passive throughout the night. However, the Trojans didn't get a corner kick until the 20th minute and had several shots go over the crossbar and out of bounds.
Valpo keeper Andrew Fletcher made seven saves in the shutout.
"Every year we play against Chesterton they come out and dominate the first part of the game -- even last year we won 1-0, but they dominated the first half," Jeftich said. "We talked about how it's our field and our game, and it's time for us to come out on the attack with our speed, with our team players and with our senior leadership."