PORTAGE | A one-goal halftime lead over Chesterton didn't go to waste for Valparaiso this time.
The Vikings, who dropped a 2-1 match to the rival Trojans during the regular season, found themselves in a similar position in Saturday's Class 2A Portage Sectional championship.
Up 2-1 at the break, Valpo made its advantage stand up, scoring twice in the second half to pull away for a 4-1 victory.
"More than anything, it was just time to show our talent, show our cards," coach Rob Cespedes said. "It's a very talented bunch with a lot of ball ability. They feel confident in the way they play. You can scout all you want. We just want to play our game. More than anything, we played like a unit, from keeper up to forward."
Kaylee Pullins and Lauren Reineke, who registered her varsity tally in Thursday's semifinals, both connected for a pair of goals.
"I was feeling good and I wanted to get that feeling again," Reineke said. "We just kept pushing up. My brother (Patrick) did the same thing – he was pulled up from JV and scored in the sectional – so it's great to follow in his footsteps. I'm ecstatic. We've got great players and we work together really well."
Reineke put Valpo up for good, breaking a 1-1 tie at 27:14, when she chipped in a shot off a scramble in front of the net. In the 52nd minute, she beat keeper Carley Furto to the ball near the top of the box and punched it between the pipes to make it 3-1.
"She's got a great touch," Cespedes said. "She never loses her cool and just keeps going."
Pullins notched Valpo's first goal off a re-start at 6:21. Her ground ball shot off a Kate Johnson pass rolled under Alex Bucko. Pullins capped the scoring with 11:17 left, winning a ball in the Trojans' third and sprinting in to strike on a breakaway.
"The big thing, especially on the turf, was keeping our passes on the ground, and making our connections," Cespedes said.
Chesterton (14-4) tied the match at 8:40 when Sam Furto tapped in the ball out of a goal-mouth scrum. It was one of a scant few opportunities the Trojans could muster against Valpo's stingy defense.
"Valpo came out with great energy," Chesterton coach Dave Galloway said. "They possessed the ball really well the whole match. We didn't possess it like we normally do. We couldn't find that one little touch. They're very good in the air with (Sara) Tumbas and Johnson. We'd like to have shot more than twice in the game. We just had difficulty getting through them. It was their day."
Valpo meets Duneland Athletic Conference foe Lake Central on Wednesday at the Highland Regional, the round where Chesterton ended the Vikings' season last year.
"On to the third game," Cespedes said. "Three of seven."