October 17, 2003 at 10:33 a.m.
Chisago Lakes 3
North Branch 1
The Chisago Lakes boys soccer team accomplished what they wanted to in the regular season by earning a home playoff game. Thanks to an 11-7 record, they got one versus North Branch last Thursday.
Even though the Wildcats breezed by the Vikings earlier in the year, this game was going to be different, and both teams knew it.
Arguably playing their best soccer of the season, the Vikings came out firing before an early Chisago Lakes goal knocked them back a step. At the three minute mark in the first half, Chris Golv tallied a goal on a breakaway putting the ‘Cats in front 1-0.
Still 1-0, Steve Taylor found Blane Maher 29 minutes later for anther Chisago goal, pushing the Wildcats lead to 2-0 at the half.
In search of an answer, North Branch got that early in the second half, pulling within one. The game stayed that way for 30 more minutes before the Wildcats finally picked up some breathing room on a Taylor goal late in the half. The score put the finishing touches on a 3-1 win for Chisago, punching them to the second round of sections for the second consecutive year.
“We had some good scoring chances but North Branch played very well to keep it close,” said Mark Leigh, Chisago Lakes boys soccer head coach. “It was an exciting game with a good crowd and a good result for Chisago.”
Up next, number two seed Mahtomedi in round two.
Chisago Lakes 1
The weather might have been a sign for Leigh and his Wildcats. Facing off with Mahtomedi in round two of the section 3A tournament, the skies turned dark and the wind picked up, foreshadowing things to come for the ‘Cats.
It took the Zephyrs three minutes to greet the Wildcats as Mahtomedi took the early lead. After the Zephyrs pushed the score to 2-0 moments later, the Wildcats found the back of the net thanks to another goal by Golv, making the score 2-1 at the half. It was just the boost they were looking for.
“Mahtomedi showed great speed to break into the clear,” remarked Leigh. “We played a really strong first half with a lot of pressure, several corner kicks, and many good chances. I felt our chances were good trailing 2-1 at the half.”
However in the second half, like the weather, the Chisago attack cooled off. Despite playing well, Mahtomedi got to the ‘Cats early, pushing to score to 3-1. Then, with 15 minutes left, the Zephyrs threw the knock-out blow with their fourth goal of the game, sealing the Wildcats fate en route to a 4-1 win.
“We played well and we’re ready to go,” replied Leigh. “They went in front 3-1 and that didn’t keep us from working hard, but it gave the Zephyrs the confidence they needed and they tightened their defense. Just as I was making plans to add another forward, they scored putting the game out of reach.”
It was a difficult way to end a very successful season for the Wildcats, still, nothing but positives surround this year’s squad. With a final record of 12-8, Chisago Lakes is already looking ahead to next season.
“We had a very good season,” said Leigh. “Three of our losses were to Class AA schools (Forest Lake, Washburn, and Cambridge-Isanti). Three others were to the number one and two rated teams in the section in Hill-Murray and Mahtomedi. We beat eight teams that we either tied or lost to last year. Blane Maher finished in the top five in scoring in the state and Chris Golv finished in the top 20. They are ninth and 10 graders. We are a good young team hoping to continue to improve.”
No doubt, they will.