VALPARAISO | As the clock wound down to the final minute, the Valparaiso faithful held its collective breath.
With 20 seconds left, the crowd came to its feet and roared its approval, as two years of frustration were wiped away.
The Vikings finally avoided futility in a satisfying 1-0 win over Crown Point in the Class 2A Valparaiso Regional championship Saturday night.
“We did it, we did!” the Viking players yelled, jumping up and down on the festive sideline moments later.
C.P. eliminated Valpo in each of the last two seasons in the regional championship, winning 2-1 last year and 1-0 in a shootout in 2011.
“Crown Point is a great team, and they play so hard, especially in the second half,” said Valpo junior midfielder Grace Withrow, whose goal at the 24:48 proved to be the difference. “We just to come out harder than them (Saturday).
“We just had to win all the 50-50 balls and finish when we had the opportunity.”
Valpo (12-6-2) advances to Saturday’s South Bend St. Joe Semistate and plays Homestead (15-2-4) at 11 a.m.
“Finally,” Valpo coach Rob Cespedes said. “Crown Point has always been a very powerful team. … We knew it was going to be a tough go, and the score reflected it.”
After Withrow’s unassisted goal, the Vikings kept up the pressure on the Bulldogs (13-6-1). The Vikings had nine shots on goal in the first half and finished with a 15-5 advantage.
Valpo lost 3-2 to C.P. in the regular season.
“We corrected our mistakes, and we learned what we needed to do to get it done,” Withrow said. “We learned what we need to do to get it done when it counted in the regional final.”
Valpo hadn’t beaten C.P. since a regular-season win two years ago.
“I’m so proud of the way we came so far,” said senior goalkeeper Kristina Veljovic, who was also in goal in the second half of last year’s regional loss. “We played very well, especially the underclassmen. They wanted it just as bad as the seniors, and we play for each other.”
C.P. coach Chris Mikrut said Valpo hurt them in transition.
“I thought (keeper) Meghan Morasan for us played a great game,” he said. “The last play she had was point blank. You need your keeper to make two or three unbelievable saves, and she did that.
“She gave the girls a chance to win.”
The Vikings, who won their seventh regional title and first since ‘07, don’t want the run to end.
“Each part of the tournament is a step,” Veljovic said. “We took one step over sectionals, now we just took the step in regionals and now we just having to keep climbing until we get to the top.”