Boys soccer: Trojans go on road for Mankato West challenge
WORTHINGTON — The time is now for the Trojans to step up in boys soccer action, as they prepare for a third-round Section 2A tilt at Mankato West.
Fourth-seeded Worthington comes into tonight’s game (Tuesday, Oct. 15) at top-seeded West the winners of two in a row, as they edged 13th-seeded Mankato Loyola 1-0 in the first round of postseason play last Monday and advanced to face fifth-seeded New Ulm, where they produced a come-from-behind 4-2 triumph three days later.
These are two wins that have come following a 3-0 loss the Trojans suffered in the last game of the regular season to Mankato West. In a defensive battle, West emerged in the second half to rip off three unanswered goals.
WHS won seven games in a row during the regular season, but then has showed some inconsistency.
“That seven-game win streak was good and I think we are a good team, but somehow our play dropped a little bit with the loss to Mankato West, and then when we struggled in the first half against both Loyola and New Ulm, that worries me a bit,” Worthington boys soccer coach Smitty Ektnitphong said Monday. “A win is a win, though, at that point, I thought.”
While the Trojans have struggled to start, Ektnitphong said he is pleased with how his team has finished, gaining confidence throughout their matches to pull of victories.
“We struggled again in the first half against New Ulm and were down 2-0, but once you start connecting on one, two, or three balls in a row, you start gaining confidence,” Ektnitphong said.
Three different players scored goals for the West Scarlets in their win at Trojan Field 12 days ago, as Worthington had four shots on goal to West’s 15. Most recently, West blasted ninth-seeded Hutchinson 10-0.
No matter what happened on those nights, however, pales in comparison to the stakes that will arise when the Trojans and West take to the pitch again tonight. This time the winner advances to the Section 2A final game, on Thursday night at the higher seed’s home field. The other side of the bracket pits seventh-seeded Mankato East against third-seeded Waseca in Waseca.
“For us to beat Mankato West, we need to control the ball early and establish rhthym in the first 15 minutes,” Ektnikphong said. “West brings quality players and they will bring pressure, hard and fast. Will our kids be ready for the challenge? We’ll see. But, I think they will be.”