DANVILLE — In a season of learning, the Danville Vikings are showing the fruits of their labor.
On Tuesday night in a Big 12 Conference contest against the Bloomington Purple Raiders, the Vikings were successful in many areas except for one — scoring goals.
Bloomington used a pair goals from senior Miles Keeton to defeat Danville 2-0 at Ned Whitesell Field.
“We are finally starting to connect on our passes. We have finally figured out our set formation that works the best for this team,’’ said Danville junior Jericho Maniquis. “We have a defense that trusts each other and that is key to preventing goals.
“We just need to keep fighting on that last part. We had chances, but we just didn’t get the ball to go into the back of the net.’’
Statistically, the Vikings had seven shots on goal to nine for the Raiders.
Bloomington was just able to finish its two chances at the end of the first half and again at the end of the game, while Danville had a shot from Leighton Arnett that went off the crossbar and a pair of opportunities from Edgar Segura that just went over the net.
“We still need to be a little more aggressive in the final offensive third,’’ Danville coach Brent Lockhart said. “There were plenty of times where we possessed the ball very well, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“I was very happy with our defensive effort.’’
Everything that Lockhart saw on Tuesday night was a positive compared to the Vikings last four games in which they were outscored 26-1.
“We’ve had some tough games, but this was one where we came ready to play,’’ he said. “I’m really happy to see that.’’
It really appeared that Tuesday’s contest was destined for a scoreless first half, but Keeton was in the right place at the right time as Bloomington junior Felipe Ortega made a beautiful crossing pass to the middle of goal area.
Danville sophomore keeper Tyler Finley couldn’t do anything as Keeton had a wide-open net for the tap-in.
“You always talk about taking care of the last five minutes,’’ Lockhart said. “But, that was a great play by them.’’
Maniquis admitted the late score by the Raiders was actually motivation for the Vikings.
“It hurt, but we had played so well, that we were confident that we could come back and tie the game up,’’ he said. “We did a great job of working together. We kept our heads up on offense and connected on more passes.
“It’s frustrating to play in a game where you have plenty of chances and plenty of stops, but the ball just doesn’t go in the net for you.’’
That was definitely the case in the final 40 minutes.
Danville (5-12-1 overall, 2-6-1 in the Big 12) had five quality scoring opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the second half, including Arnett’s shot off the crossbar. Gustavo and Edgar Segura also had shots on goal during that stretch, but Bloomington keeper Cameron Anderson turned away each shot.
“Tonight shows that we have the potential,’’ Maniquis said. “We just need to find the back of the net.’’
Bloomington improves to 6-8-1 overall and 3-3-1 in the Big 12 Conference.