TROJAN BOYS' SOCCER: Cardinals bring down TrojansWORTHINGTON – The Worthington Trojan boys’ soccer team dropped below a .500 record for the first time this season Monday night, falling to the Fairmont Cardinals 3-2 in overtime at Trojan Field.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON – The Worthington Trojan boys’ soccer team dropped below a .500 record for the first time this season Monday night, falling to the Fairmont Cardinals 3-2 in overtime at Trojan Field.
For the Trojans, who stretched a 1-0 halftime lead into a 2-0 bulge early in the second half, it was the second time in two weeks that a two-goal advantage slipped away, as the Cardinals closed the gap with just over 10 minutes in regulation and forced overtime with the equalizer on a penalty-kick goal in the 80th minute. A goal in the first 5-minute overtime period proved to be the winner for the visitors.
“That’s soccer,” WHS head coach Smitty Eknitphong said. “You’ve got your ups and you’ve got your downs. Obviously, we were up early and then we tried to cling to the lead. Good teams find a way to fight back and that’s what Fairmont did. I give Fairmont a lot of credit – they didn’t go away quietly.”
The Cardinals (11-2, 6-1), who won the South Central Conference outright with the win, definitely didn’t go away despite being outplayed by the hosts for the first 40 minutes and well into the final half.
“I thought the team played well, but Fairmont put a lot of pressure on us in the last five minutes,” Eknitphong said. “We seemed to be in a hurry to clear the ball and didn’t really get a foot under the ball to clear it out nice. That’s kind of been a theme for the whole season. We were up 2-0 against Marshall and we couldn’t clear the ball. It was the same thing tonight, clinging to a 2-1 lead and we still couldn’t clear the ball.”
WHS’s inability to get quality clearance kicks in the final segment of the game allowed FHS to slice the Trojan lead in half in the 70th minute when Oscar Svenfelz scored the first Cardinal goal off of a corner kick.
The Cardinals, who outshot the Trojans in the second half by a 7-2 margin, continued to put pressure on Trojan goalkeeper Kody Honius (12 saves) over the next 10 minutes, sending several shots either wide or high of the mark. FHS finally broke through with the equalizer in the 80th minute when a penalty kick was awarded to visitors on a foul in the box.
“I’m not sure about that foul in the box,” Eknitphong said. “But you can’t change anything.”
Cardinal striker Lucas Miles was selected to kick the penalty kick with 53 seconds remaining on the clock and kicked the ball into a wide-open left side of the goal as Honius guessed wrong on which direction the kick would go.
In overtime, the Trojans managed to gain the first good opportunity on net as Victor Meza sent in a free kick from 15 yards out right at Cardinal keeper Matt Tennyson (nine saves), who allowed a rebound but quickly covered the ball up to prevent the hosts from regaining the advantage.
The Cardinals turned the tide on the Trojans in the final minute of the first overtime when an odd-man rush led to Miles scoring the go-ahead goal on an assist from Grant Becker with 38 seconds left in the period.
“I told the kids that the game isn’t won or lost on the last goal that’s scored,” Eknitphong said. “There were a lot of opportunities in the first half that we had good looks on the goal. Those are the moments that we need to be finishing.”
The Trojans, who outshot the Cardinals by an 8-6 margin in the first half, continually pressured the opposing goal in the opening half, but only managed the one goal as Tennyson stopped everything at him until the 14th minute when Josh Kleve received a throw in from Andrew Johnson.
Kleve, in one motion, took the ball off his chest with his back to the goal and kicked it from the right corner of the box into the opposite corner of the net for the opening score.
“I angled my foot in the air with the ball angled toward my foot,” Kleve said of his kick to get the Trojans on the board. “Then I turned toward the ball and kicked it the opposite way.”
It was a beautiful strike by the midfielder and Eknitphong thought that Kleve made the right decision on the play.
“He had his back to goal and the ball happened to be right at him,” the WHS coach said. “It was one touch and he swung around. He reacted to the ball the way it came to him and that’s what you need to do. If he would’ve tried to trap the ball down, he might not have had a chance because the defense would’ve probably closed it down. That gave us a lot of momentum.”
Unfortunately, the Trojans couldn’t use that momentum to stretch the lead any further before the half despite earning chances on corners and free kicks.
WHS had good chances from Jesus Ordaz, Meza, Randy Lopez and Jose Alfredo Castillo in the first half, but it wasn’t until the opening minute of the second half that the Trojans gained the two-goal cushion.
The Cardinals opened the second half with the ball, but the Trojans quickly gained possession and went right to work at attacking the net as Kleve found Castillo down low in the FHS box and Castillo finished the play off by kicking the ball off the keeper into the corner of the goal for a 2-0 lead.
Following that goal, however, the Trojans weren’t able to maintain the same intensity or get the same amount of shots on goal that they had up until that point and the Cardinals closed the gap late before finishing it in overtime.
“We had some really good looks in the game, but couldn’t put them in,” Eknitphong said. “We’ve struggled finishing plays during the season inside the 18-yard line. It should be a given that when the ball is inside the 18, you focus on finishing it. For some reason, we haven’t been able to do that.
“If one of those balls goes in, maybe things turn out different. I thought the team played really well, though.”
The loss drops WHS to 5-6-1 overall and to 2-4 in the conference.
The Trojans return to action today as they travel to Mankato to take on Mankato Loyola.
FHS 0 2 1 0 – 3
WHS 1 1 0 0 – 2
Trojan girls fall to Fairmont
FAIRMONT — The Trojan girls’ soccer team had its fair share of chances, but they could not put anything past the Cardinals in a 3-0 loss to Fairmont Monday.
“We failed to clear the ball in the first half,” WHS coach Emily Ahlquist said. “When we did get it out, we would give it right back to them. We weren’t functioning as a team.”
Worthington kept it close early on with some great saves by goalie Alivia Rowley. With just over 10 minutes gone by, Fairmont got a penalty kick in the box off of a handball by Worthington. But Rowley came up big, making the save and turning back the Cardinals for the time being.
The first goal for Fairmont came off of a long shot that was deflected into the net by a Worthington defender. The Cardinals added to their lead with a second goal to make it 2-0 going into half time.
“We started better in the second half,” Ahlquist said. “We started to dominate and had our chances. Both Ana [Castillo] and Whitney [Coriolan] had chances and almost put the ball in a few times.”
In the second half, Fairmont picked up their final goal on a penalty kick in the box to go up by three.
“We need to work on clearing the ball on defense,” Ahlquist said. “We also need to work on staying in our positions and work the ball to the outside and then up the field.”
The Trojans host Waseca on “Parent/Senior Night” today at 6:15 p.m. in their last game of the season.
Trojans 0 0 - 0
Cardinals 2 1 - 3