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17U soccer: Worthington one game away from state berth


COON RAPIDS — Excellent ball movement and strong team defense propelled the Worthington 17U youth soccer team to a 3-0 shutout over Gitche-Gumee of Duluth Tuesday night, setting up a match tonight against Faribault for a state tournament berth.

Andrew Johnson scored two first half goals and Ivan Rodriguez added another in the second half as Worthington advanced to 9-1-2 on the summer season.

Worthington attempted about 16 shots in the game while Gitche-Gumee managed only about three, said Worthington head coach Juan Flores.

“They didn’t get too many chances to score against us. Our defense played well,” he said.

The Worthington U17 team defeated Marshall 10-1 and lost to New Ulm 3-2 at the district tournament. The team advanced as the second seed to the cross-district qualifier round, which required it to win three games on consecutive nights for the final state tournament spot.

In its first qualifier game on Monday, Worthington’s squad defeated Wright County 4-0 in Coon Rapids.

On Tuesday, Worthington faced a tall and physical team that moved the ball well. But Worthington anticipated Gitche-Gumee’s off-side trap style, and although the locals were called for some off-sides penalties in the first half, they “read” their opponents well, said Flores.

“Everyone had touches on the ball. Everyone just moved so well,” he explained.

Johnson got in behind the defenders for his first goal, winning a 1-on-1 showdown with the Duluth goalkeeper. Victor Meza had the assist.

Johnson’s second goal came on a breakaway, assisted by Jesus Ordaz.

Rodriguez was assisted on the third goal by Meza.

The game against Faribault will be at 8 p.m. in Coon Rapids.

“I think we’re ready,” said Flores Tuesday night. “We play as a team. Tomorrow we have to come in with the same mentality, to play as a team. And hopefully, this team will show that well.”

Gitche-Gumee 0 0 — 0

Worthington 2 1 — 3