Valley Lutheran and Saginaw Nouvel set the stage with another Top 10 tie


SAGINAW, MI — Valley Lutheran showed why it’s the No. 1 team in the state.

The New Catholic Central showed that the difference between #1 and #8 is minimal.

Some would say it is non-existent.

For the second time this season, the Valley Lutheran and Nouvel women’s soccer teams are tied, leaving the Chargers undefeated and Nouvel anxious for the next game.

After tying 3-3 earlier this season, the teams drew 0-0 on Saturday at Nouvel, giving Valley Lutheran a 13-0-2 record and Nouvel a 13-3-3 record.

“We would have liked to have had a goal and a win, but a tie keeps us unbeaten…and that’s something we’re proud of,” Valley Lutheran coach Doug Guenther said. “We had never been ranked No. 1 before and we didn’t really know how to approach it.

“For the first two weeks, we kind of kept quiet at school before letting them talk about it. But the players deserved it. They’re excited. The school is thrilled.”

While Valley Lutheran is ranked No. 1, Nouvel is ranked No. 8, with losses to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Freeland and Bay City Western.

“Valley Lutheran is a good team,” said Nouvel coach Matt Solek. “We expected a good game, and that’s what we got. It was a bit like our first game, back and forth, except this time no one was able to score.

Valley Lutheran opens the Division 4 District Tournament at 5 p.m. Wednesday against 8-1-4 Midland Calvary Baptist at Valley Lutheran. Nouvel also open at home at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday against 1-14-1 Roscommon.

If the seeds and standings hold, the teams will meet for a third time on Thursday, June 2 at the District Championship game in Hemlock.

And there is no tie in the tournament.

“We’ve been practicing on penalties for the past few weeks,” Solek said. “You have to be ready for anything. Some tournament matches have ended in shootouts. When you compete in tournaments against top teams, chances are it will end in a shootout.

Still, both coaches would love to win in regular time…maybe even score in regular time.

“We had a few chances…I thought we had more control of the ball,” Solek said. “We didn’t manage to fit our defensive third into our attacking third as well as I would have liked.”

The teams are also tied for the lead in the Tri-Valley Conference West with 9-0-2 records with one game remaining. Nouvel wraps up the regular season with a TVC West game Tuesday at Ithaca, while Valley Lutheran wraps up Monday at home with a TVC West game against Bullock Creek.

“To be undefeated, to be ranked No. 1…that’s something the girls should be proud of,” Guenther said. “We only have 15 girls. We lost our top scorer (Riley Krause) before the season to a knee injury.

“But what makes these girls good, what makes them undefeated and ranked No. 1, is that they are both mentally and physically strong. It’s a nice combination, and it’s what gets you through matches like this.

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