PREP BOYS' SOCCER: Trojans edge EaglesEDGERTON — With the Worthington boys’ soccer team trying to protect a 1-0 lead midway through the first half of Tuesday’s game against Southwest Christian, WHS goalkeeper Ricardo Maldonado was faced with defending a penalty kick.
EDGERTON — With the Worthington boys’ soccer team trying to protect a 1-0 lead midway through the first half of Tuesday’s game against Southwest Christian, WHS goalkeeper Ricardo Maldonado was faced with defending a penalty kick.
“I knew where he was going,” Maldonado said. “Every time they place the ball, they look where they want it. So I was pretty confident. I felt good about that penalty — I knew that if it was going to go in I would have had it.”
The Eagles’ Clayton Huisken ended up pushing his kick on the penalty just outside of the right-hand post, one of a number of missed scoring chances for SWC in the game as the Trojans withstood a late rally to pull off a 2-1 victory.
“It’s a relief,” WHS head coach Vilath Lovan said. “It’s nice to beat these guys twice this year.”
Southwest Christian had its first scoring opportunity 2:19 into the game when Klint Knutson earned a one-on-one matchup against Maldonado directly in front of the Trojans’ net. However, Knutson’s shot was put just over the crossbar.
The Trojans recovered from the threat and got their offense going, with forward Thun Lay manufacturing a succession of shots against SWC goalkeeper Zach Huisken.
Lay’s shot at 10:20 into the game was deflected for a corner kick, which resulted in Worthington’s first goal.
WHS’ Oo A Sit got his head on the ball from the corner, deflecting it straight to the foot of Lay, who volleyed the ball past Huisken into the right side of the net.
Knutson had another opportunity to score 30 seconds after the goal, but missed high on another point-blank shot.
Just more than two minutes later, Eagles forward Andrew Top was tackled by Worthington’s Darwin Carrillo in the penalty area, which resulted in Clayton Huisken’s penalty kick.
Neither side created many chances in the remaining minutes before halftime, though Knutson and Damon VanderMaten both had shots miss just wide for SWC. Top hit a strong shot just under the crossbar that was saved by Maldonado with 30 seconds left in the half.
“We played scared in the first half because (the Worthington players) can handle the ball so well,” SWC head coach Leland Vanderaa said. “If you beat them to the ball it doesn’t matter, but we didn’t do that.”
Top had a powerful header sail just wide-right 10:29 into the second half to continue the Eagles’ misfortunes in trying to find the net.
Two minutes later, Maldonado made a sensational save to deny a shot by Dominic Nibbelink and Knutson pushed the rebound just wide of the net to the left-hand side.
“I just had in my head the same thought — just block and just dive to every ball,” Maldonado said. “Things went great.”
Worthington scored 18:48 into the half when Diego Esquivel found a gap down the right side and dribbled the ball all the way in front of the SWC net.
“They had a couple of spots that were really a weakness, I told (Diego) to dribble and take them on,” Lovan said.
Esquivel unleashed a booming shot that smashed into Zach Huisken and deflected straight into the back of the net.
Southwest Christian came close to getting a goal back four minutes later when Nibbelink uncorked a beautiful shot, but his effort pounded off of the right-hand post.
The Eagles finally did score on a corner kick by Monte DeKam that was headed firmly by Knutson and found the back of the net after a deflection.
“I knew that they were going to have lots of things that we didn’t want to see — corner kicks and things like that, or a deep throw,” Lovan said. “That’s what hurt us.”
A minute later Esquivel hit a cross that WHS’ Jared Kinley connected with, but Kinley’s shot went just outside the right-hand post.
Less than a minute later Maldonado made a pair of phenomenal saves to preserve the Trojans’ lead. Just more than one minute after that Clayton Huisken hit a shot off of the left-hand post, which turned out to be the Eagles’ final opportunity to equalize.
“It was very frustrating to hit the post twice and have an open net three times and we just couldn’t stick it in very well,” Vanderaa said. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s just terribly frustrating, our guys are frustrated. They get it all done, but they don’t finish.”
Vanderaa mentioned that his players were unable to put enough pressure on the ball early on in the contest, lacked communication and tried too often to dribble around Worthington defenders, though managed to raise their game in the final 20 minutes.
“The second half we got going,” Vanderaa said. “It took us about three quarters to get going and the last 20 minutes we finally got going. But in soccer you’ve got to play full games, generally speaking.”
Maldonado said it was definitely a challenge for the Trojans facing up against the Eagles, especially physically.
“They’re a hard team,” Maldonado said. “It’s just hard because they’re tall — but all of the teams are taller than us.”
SWC (7-5-1) will host Central Minnesota Christian on Saturday and will then end its regular season on the road at Marshall on Tuesday.
Worthington (9-2) will travel to Fairmont on Monday and will finish its regular season at home on Tuesday against Mankato Loyola.
The Trojans will be looking to avenge a 1-0 loss to Fairmont from when the two teams met in Worthington on Sept. 12.
“Hopefully we win, we’ve got to,” Maldonado said. “In my point of view, when we played Fairmont I think their goal was just luck. The first person to score would have won, and it was them.”
Lovan hopes his team can finish with a pair of victories to enter sectional play on a high note.
“Things are getting better and hopefully we keep on winning,” Lovan said. “We’ve lost two games already, we’ve had some mistakes and stuff that we must correct before we get to sectionals.”
Worthington 1 1 — 2
Southwest Christian 0 1 — 1