WORTHINGTON -- Austin and Worthington aren’t natural rivals. The two boys soccer teams play in different conferences and are separated by 150 miles.
But as the two programs have elevated to some of the best in the state, a rivalry has blossomed.
“It’s kind of like a friendly match,” ” WHS head coach Juan Flores said. “At the end, we took a picture all together. We have a good relationship. We want to keep that tradition going.
“Next year we’ll get to travel over there and play a game over there. It’s fun. Both crowds get to see it. It’s good competition. They have really, really good players; that’s a standard we have to have.”
The Packers took the latest installment of the rivalry game with a 2-1 victory Saturday night.
“I’m really proud of the kids,” Flores said. “We gave it everything we had. We talked about it before the game. Win or lose, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to give it all we got. We’re going to give it 100% and leave it all on the field, and I think that’s what we did tonight.”
The Packers came into the game having lost just once this season with a roster filled with juniors and seniors.
“It was good for the kids to see a team that’s full of seniors and that’s well skilled who can play,” Flores said. “That’s always fun to see and compete with a team like Austin.”
For much of the first half, the two teams played even. It wasn’t until the 26th minute that saw the Packers break through. Henry Tolbert -- who was coming off a two-goal performance against Mankato West -- scored the game’s first goal. Eight minutes later, Lucas Evenson gave Austin a 2-0 lead.
“They were connecting passes really well,” Flores said. “They were pressuring us when we had the ball. We didn’t play good; we didn’t play how we wanted to play. But we played until the final whistle. I think that’s important for these kids going forward that we play all 80 minutes.”
The Trojans had opportunities offensively, and finally broke through with 14:44 remaining in the game on a Jesus Lozano goal.
“It’s good that we got that goal,” Flores said. “I think we played a lot better the last 15 minutes after that goal went in.”
From there, WHS had some good looks at the Austin goal, but came up empty as time ran out.
“There’s a lot of things we have to work on and a lot of things we have to improve on,” Flores said. “To see this level of competition is great because we know what to expect. We know what kind of teams are out there at the top. It’s good to be able to compete with them.
“Maybe not the game we wanted, but a 2-1 score maybe doesn’t tell the whole story. The kids gave it all their effort, they gave it all they had. It didn’t go the way we wanted to go, but we’re still proud of them.”