SPEARFISH — Rigel Roberdeau was on the field Oct. 8, 2016, when Spearfish defeated Tea Area 3-0 to earn the state A boys’ soccer title. He recalled the scene that day in Sioux Falls.
“As the last few seconds wound down, I’m just seeing people’s reactions. That’s when it kind of hit you,” said Roberdeau, who was a sophomore center-midfielder on that team.
“It was definitely a great feeling, just seeing all that hard work and dedication that went into that coming to fruition at the end of the season,” Roberdeau said.
The 2019 graduate of Spearfish High School is attending school at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He is studying international relations and strategic intelligence.
Camaraderie, relationships and memories stand out for Roberdeau as he recalled that 2016 campaign.
“You have the same goal and you’re going through the same stuff: the ups and downs,” Roberdeau said. “You form a lot of connections and bonds with each other that don’t usually go away.”
Roberdeau also recalls learning a number of life lessons.
Spearfish had dropped a 1-0 decision to Sioux Falls Christian in the 2015 state A title game. That setback motivated every Spartans’ player for 2016.
“We weren’t going to let that happen again the next season,” Roberdeau said. “That was our general attitude, and I think even coach (Jim) Hill would echo those thoughts.”
Roderbeau wanted to get the ball off his feet more quickly and increase his speed of play in 2016.
“We knew we were contenders for the state championship. We all knew that was our goal,” Roberdeau said.
“We really took it a week at a time. Whoever we were playing the next game, that was our focus,” he added.
Many of Spearfish’s players had played on the 2015 squad. The 2016 roster included 11 seniors.
Spearfish’s final record in 2016 was 12 wins, one loss, and three ties. The Spartans outscored their opposition by a combined 45-6 margin.
“I don’t remember a game where we were extremely disappointed in how we played,” Roberdeau said. He described that campaign as his “most defining” in terms of growth as a player.
Practice sessions in 2016 carried a businesslike tone. Roberdeau said the mentality centered on confidence and determination.
Spearfish went undefeated in its first 13 games (10 wins, zero losses, three ties) before falling 2-1 to Rapid City Stevens in the regular-season finale.
“I remember it being a really close game that was well-played on both sides,” Roberdeau said in recalling that Stevens contest.
Defense was a large part of Spearfish’s identity.
“We had a lot of seniors starting on that team, and a lot of them were on defense,” Roberdeau said.
Roberdeau also recalled the team’s chemistry. He said all players knew one another, their tendencies, and where they would be on the field.
Six teams were in the 2016 class A tournament field, with Spearfish being the number 1 seed.
Following a first-round bye, Spearfish defeated St. Thomas More 2-0 in a semifinal home game.
Junior midfielder Caleb Ardis scored a pair of second-half goals for the Spartans.
Tea Area brought the number 2 seed into the title game. The Titans’ record going in was nine wins, zero losses, and three ties.
Roberdeau recalled the team mood as one of strong confidence and increased focus going into that contest.
“There was an overwhelming sense of, ‘We’re not going to lose this game,’” Roberdeau recalled. “’This is not going to happen again.’”
Sioux Falls’ field had artificial turf. Roberdeau said that resulted in the game being a bit faster than others.
Ardis scored with six minutes remaining in the first half as Spearfish led 1-0. Roberdeau said Spearfish was a bit nervous before that goal, but confidence then set in.
Sophomore midfielder Weston Verhulst and Ardis added second-half goals for the 3-0 final.
Ardis was named the “offensive player of the game.” Senior teammate Edgar Meza received “defensive player of the game” status.
Jacob Burr (senior goalkeeper) and Meza were named to the South Dakota Coaches Association all-state team.
Roberdeau cherishes his memories from that time and still keeps in contact with many past teammates.
How would Roberdeau’s memories have been different if Spearfish had not won a state title?
Roberdeau said there would be disappointment in not reaching a season-long goal.
He added that would also have been the case if the team did not work hard or execute.
“The state championship is a nice addition to all those memories,” Roberdeau said. “I would still look back at them fondly.”
Major life lessons for Roberdeau included leadership and hard work. Roberdeau said Hill excels at instilling the “work lesson” into his players.
“This is your season and your team,” Roberdeau said in recalling Hill’s speech to the players. “I’m here to coach you, but it’s going to be what you make of it.”
To read all of today's stories, Click here or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our e-edition or home delivery.