October 22, 2009 at 8:35 a.m.
Hermantown 3, Chisago Lakes 1
The possibility of a Chisago Lakes - North Branch section championship game went by the wayside as the Wildcat boys' soccer team lost to Hermantown 3-1 this past Tuesday, October 20 at Hermantown. The loss knocked the Wildcats (11-9-1) out of the section playoffs and advanced Hermantown to tonight's championship game.
Hermantown scored all three of their goals in the first half, one on a penalty kick and the other two after defensive lapses. The Wildcats' only goal came on a penalty kick by David Rau in the second half.
"We didn't show a whole lot of effort in the first half," said Wildcat goalkeeper Kyle Buchanan. "We picked it up in the second half, but it was too little, too late by then. And the field was in terrible condition. I think it was the worst field I've ever played on. The whole center of the field was mud, and a lot of or offensive play comes from the middle of the field. We had to move David to more of an outside midfield position to allow him to create with the ball. He didn't seem quite as comfortable out there. But I'm not blaming the field for the loss. We were just outplayed."
Chisago Lakes 3, Cloquet Esko Carlton 2 (OT/Penalty Kicks)
David Rau converted the final Wildcat penalty kick to give the Wildcats a 3-2 overtime win over Cloquet Esko Carlton (CEC) in the quarterfinals of the Section 7A playoffs last Saturday, October 17 at Chisago Lakes. But if it wasn't for a fan's visit to a satellite with two-and-a-half minutes in regulation, the game might never have made it to overtime.
The Wildcats opened the scoring midway through the first half. From midfield, Rau lofted a ball down the field and over the defense. The ball bounced once as Wildcat forward Cam Bouwens chased it down. He just beat the CEC keeper to the ball and knocked it over the keeper and into the center of the net from 25 yards out to put the Wildcats up 1-0. Rau nearly scored with eight minutes left in the half on a nice shot from the top of the box, but the CEC keeper leaped and knocked it just over the crossbar.
CEC nearly tied it with four minutes left in the half. Wildcat goalkeeper Kyle Buchanan tried to beat a CEC forward to a thru ball, but the forward got there first and moved to his left to set up a shot into the wide-open net 12 yards away. He knocked the ball toward the net for what looked like a sure goal, but sweeper Dom Novak raced back and somehow kicked the ball out of harm's way to keep the Wildcat lead at 1-0 going into halftime.
CEC scored to tie the game with 26 minutes left in the second half. They got too many chance on a ball in the box and finally put it away. And CEC went ahead with 14 minutes remaining on another goal where they had a lot of players n the box.
The Wildcats had several more scoring opportunities after that as they turned up the pressure, but it looked like time might run out before they could tie it up. But then karma intervened. Wildcat fan Barb Novak mentioned she had once gone to the restroom when the girls hockey team was tied with a couple of minutes left in an important game, and they scored while she was in the restroom. So, with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in this game, she thought she'd try it again.
And, lo and behold! Just as Novak got to the door of the satellite, good things started to happen. From 40 yards out, Tyler Kari put a nice thru ball to Bouwens on the left. Bouwens put a nice shot into the lower right corner from 15 yards out with 1:39 left in the game to send it into overtime.
Neither team was able to score in 20 minutes of overtime. The Wildcats got a scare with 9 minutes left in the second overtime when Bouwens got hit in the head and had to be helped off the field. But, luckily for the Wildcats, Bouwens was able to return to the field before the end of regulation.
The teams set up for penalty kicks to decide the outcome of the game, with CEC going first. The shot was headed for the inside of the left post, but Buchanan dove to his right and knocked it harmlessly away. Brian Erickson took the first kick for the Wildcats, and calmly knocked a perfect shot inside the right post to put the Wildcats up 1-0.
Buchanan nearly stopped the second CEC kick, as well, but the ball just slid under him as he dove for it. The CEC keeper dove to his right to stop Joey Cartier's hard shot, leaving the penalty kicks tied at 1-1. A CEC player made a critical mistake on their next shot, shooting the ball wide left. Bouwens then drilled such a nice shot inside the right post that the CEC keeper never moved, and the Wildcats led 2-1.
Buchanan dove to his right and nearly stopped the next CEC kick, but it hit off his outstretched hands and tickled into the net. And, like Bouwens, Dom Novak also gave the keeper no chance as he drilled a laser into the upper right corner to put the Wildcats up 3-2.
The final CEC shooter fired up the middle and caught Buchanan leaning to his left, tying the score at 3-3 and setting the stage for David Rau to break the tie. The left-footed Rau calmly approached the ball and shot it into the lower left corner of the net to give the Wildcats a 4-3 edge in penalty kicks and a 3-2 win in the game. Excitement abounded both on the field and in the stands as the Wildcats had earned the right to play in the section semifinal game Tuesday, October 20 at Hermantown.
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