An unlikely goal by junior defender Omar Fernandez salvaged a tie for the Worthington High School boys varsity soccer team Friday night, protecting the Trojans from losing the first event played on the newly-remodeled Trojan Field.
Visiting St. Peter led 2-0 at halftime and held onto a 2-1 lead late into the second period. Then, with 2:01 on the clock, Fernandez scooted to his right about 10 yards in front of the St. Peter net for the ball, sturdied himself for a split-second, and kicked it across the grain into the lower left side.
The game ended 2-2. Worthington stayed unbeaten for the season, and is now at 4-0-1. St. Peter moved to 4-0-3.
“The coach always says, ‘Keep going to the back posts,’” Fernandez said after the game. “It (the ball) was just bouncing, I just got it on the half volley, and I got it in the goal.”
While the WHS boys were fighting for a comeback against the Saints Friday night, the Worthington girls varsity team was on the road at St. Peter. The gals scored the first goal early in the first half but lost in the end, 8-1.
Worthington 2, St. Peter 2
WORTHINGTON -- Friday’s game was the inaugural sporting event for the new Trojan Field and its springy turf surface. With large, crisp graphics splashing across a brand new scoreboard and the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” playing on the loudspeaker just before the game clock began to tick, the contest took on a celebratory atmosphere.
That celebratory atmosphere would have burst like a balloon had the Trojans lost their first game of the year. And they almost did.
St. Peter scored the game’s first goal with 11:06 remaining in the first half when an entry kick from the field’s left side found a waiting Saint, who sent it trickling into the goal. With 5:44 to play before halftime, St. Peter scored again with a penalty kick.
Worthington was called for tripping moments earlier in front of its goal, allowing senior Logan Moe a short shot that he perfected into the left side of the net.
For much of the second half, St. Peter was able to blunt relentless Worthington pressure, but finally, with 22:18 on the clock, Trojan senior Jesus Lozano scored a seeing-eye goal from 35 yards out. Lozano sent a high, arching kick straight at the Saints’ goal and it bent down and slipped in from just below the crossbar.
The Trojans had several more good chances to score later in the half, but they couldn’t finish the job until Fernandez did it.
“I felt happy, contributing to the team,” Fernandez said. “It helps a lot. Coming from me, I’m a defender, I don’t get too many chances.”
Though the Trojans weren’t able to win, they could have easily lost it in the first half to a taller, physical St. Peter opponent that grabbed the early initiative. But the second half was a different story as the Trojans fought hard to get back into the game.
“We were a whole different team the second half,” Fernandez said.
St. Peter 2 0 -- 2
Worthington 0 2 -- 2
St. Peter 8, Worthington 1
ST. PETER -- Only about a minute and a half elapsed in the game when Worthington scored the game’s first goal. It was secured by junior Sophia Montoya Mendez into the lower left corner about 25 yards away. It was “a beautiful shot,” said WHS head coach Emily Ahlquist.
But St. Peter scored the next two goals before halftime, then outscored Worthington 6-0 in the second half.
WHS goalkeeper Jennifer Perez played an outstanding game, making at least 17 saves before she left the game with just less than 20 minutes remaining due to a possible concussion. She was kicked in the head, said Ahlquist, shortly after saving a penalty kick.
The Trojans finished the contest with their junior varsity goalkeeper.
The visitors, said Ahlquist, struggled in the second half to get in front of their shots. But they played very well in the first half.
“Our girls played really hard. Especially in the first half, they were playing strong,” Ahlquist testified.