PORTAGE | Seeing her male counterparts suffer an upset loss Wednesday night was all the motivation Valparaiso’s Lauren Reineke needed heading into Thursday night’s sectional opener against Hobart.
Reineke recorded a hat trick as the Vikings scored early and often in a 5-0 victory over the Brickies in the opening round of the Portage 2A Sectional.
The Vikings (8-6-2) will face Chesterton at noon Saturday for the championship.
“We saw that anything can happen when the boys played,” Reineke said. “The best team doesn’t always win, and we had to come out and keep pushing.”
Valparaiso spent much of the night torching the Hobart defense and firing shot after shot toward Brickie keeper Pam Richa. The senior did an admirable job with 13 saves, but the Vikings eventually broke through.
Ashley Thomas got Valparaiso on the board in the ninth minute, and Reineke scored her first goal in the 21st minute off an assist from freshman Emily Farmer. The youth movement continued for the Vikings minutes later when freshman Stephanie Sgouroudis found the back of the net for her third career goal to give Valparaiso a 3-0 halftime lead.
“I was proud of our freshmen,” Reineke said. “I told them before the match that this could be one of the last games of my career and I asked them to play their best. They’ve really stepped it up this year.”
Valparaiso coach Rob Cespedes got exactly what he wanted from his young players when he liberally substituted in the early minutes of the game. With a rematch coming against the Trojans, Cespedes knew he needed all the sectional jitters out in the first game.
“They have to build and they have to experience this,” Cespedes said. “It’s good to do that at the beginning and for them to feel the pressure.”
Bridget Brendza scored two quick goals in the second half to help overcome a sluggish start as Chesterton knocked off the host Indians 4-0 in the nightcap. The Portage defense kept the Trojans (13-1-2) at bay for much of the night as sophomore keeper Brianna Coleman tallied eight saves for the Indians (4-12).
Brendza scored nine minutes into the second half and then followed with another goal in the 52nd minute. Claire Galloway and Kayla Schneider added insurance goals at the midway point of the second half.
The Trojans knocked off Valparaiso 3-1 at home earlier this season.