HIGHLAND | Valparaiso prides itself on ball possession, and that attribute was never more prevalent than it was Saturday afternoon.
The Vikings scored three goals in a span of four minutes midway through the first half en route to an easy 5-0 win over the Trojans. Sharp ball control and timely crosses were the key.
"Over the years, I've coached that way," said Valpo coach Danny Jeftich. "I was brought up as a player that way and transferred that knowledge to my players. I like to possess the ball and move the ball.
"Who cares if you knock the long ball? Really, that's the best 50-50 anyway, so I like for the guys to possess the ball, and we're a good possession team. It was a good beginning for us."
Brent Howard got the Vikings (4-0) on board first with a header at the 19:00 mark before senior forward Pat Reineke tallied two quick goals. The Vikings led 3-0 with 15:40 left in the first half.
"The key was our midfield, moving it to the center and moving the ball around," Reineke said. "Basically, we did what we were supposed to do."
Howard intercepted a Highland free kick and fed Reineke on the third goal.
"The three goals we gave up were all defensive mistakes," Highland coach Mirko Maric said. "We turn the ball over, and they get a good look. Our goalie came out, they get a free header."
Valpo also used its superior team speed to its advantage and kept Highland keeper Mike Anderson busy. Valpo had 28 shots on goal to just four for Highland (5-3). Anderson made seven saves.
"Coach Jeftich always stresses speed of play, and we do a lot of plyometrics," said Howard, who had a goal and an assist.
John Virgil and Nick Violanti also found the net for the Vikings, who face Merrillville on Wednesday.
"We'll just take it one at a time, but I like the way we played," Jeftich said.