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Section 2A soccer: Trojans blank SWC, set up rematch with Faribault

Boys Soccer Trojans vs SW Christian 1
The Worthington Trojans' Jesus Lozano (5) and Terbuto Ochothow (3) apply pressure as Southwest Christian's Kade Fey (12) takes the ball at midfield on a wet Thursday night. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- On a miserable cold and rainy Thursday night hardly suitable for ducks, the Worthington Trojans boys soccer team shrugged off the weather and defeated visiting Southwest Christian 2-0 in its first Section 2A tournament game of 2019.

A first-half goal by junior Eric Knuckles seven minutes into the game, then another score by sophomore Ulises Barrera three and a half minutes into the second half were all the Trojans needed. The hosts’ speed and quickness, and their attention to defense, advanced them to 9-6-2 on the season and set up a rematch with Faribault on Saturday in a 1 p.m. quarterfinal contest.

Faribault, the No. 3 seed of the tournament, beat Worthington 3-2 two weeks ago for the Trojans’ only setback in their last seven games.

“They’re a good team. They are a team that has a lot of experience. We’re going to go out there with the mindset to get a win,” said WHS head coach Juan Flores. “The first time we played them, two of their goals came off our mistakes. There’s just a couple of things we gotta clean up, and I think we’re going to be fine on Saturday.”

On Thursday, Worthington’s quickness was evident early, but Southwest Christian had the better scoring opportunities until at the 32:58 mark, Knuckles took the ball on the right side of the Eagles’ goal about 15 yards away. He sent his kick skidding along the wet grass and under the SWC goalkeeper. Barrera was credited with the assist.

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Later in the first half, Worthington’s Jesus Lozano just missed a goal when, directly in front of the Eagles’ goal about 18 yards out, his kick hit the top bar.

Increasingly in the opening half, the Trojans connected their passes well as they worked together as a cohesive unit.

“It’s not the best field, but it’s for both teams,” said Flores. “So there’s not an excuse for us not to be controlling the ball, not to be passing. Once we settled in, everything went smooth.”

With 36:37 showing on the clock early in the second half, the score became 2-0 as Barrera worked off a WHS corner kick. The kick was knocked out of the box by Southwest, but Barrera collected it and sent it beautifully into the net -- kissing the crossbar as it went in.

Southwest Christian’s fine offensive weapon, senior Jacob Van Dam, directed a great shot toward the WHS goal at the 34-minute mark -- a rocket that bent slightly left. But it was deflected by goalkeeper Ricardo Rodriguez.

The odds seemed to flow heavily in Worthington's favor as the match continued. The Eagles substituted less freely than their counterparts, and the Trojans seemed fresher as the second half wore down in the drizzling rain and on a soggy field.

“Actually, I think we played really well tonight. I don’t think the weather affected us too much,” Southwest head coach Kevin Caspersen said after the game.

Caspersen said the Eagles’ plan Thursday night was to “beat ‘em to the ball.”

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“That was what we wanted to do, to mark up on free kicks and corner kicks. We definitely had a few good shots and a few opportunities and didn’t score on them. But I can’t be disappointed because we played a good game,” he said.

Southwest Christian, which beat 14th-seeded United Christian in its section opener on Monday, was the tournament’s No. 11 seed. The Eagles lost a 2-0 regular season game against Worthington on Sept. 3.

Southwest Christian 0 0 -- 0

Worthington 1 1 -- 2

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Boys Soccer Trojans vs SW Christian2
Trojan fans cheer from under rain coats and blankets as the boys soccer team plays Southwest Christian Thursday night. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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