WORTHINGTON -- Sophomore attacker Jonathan Banegas scored six goals Thursday night and the Worthington Trojans boys soccer team routed New Ulm 9-1 at Trojan Field in the semifinals of the Section 2AA tournament.
Banegas has been a prolific scorer all season long for WHS, and before four and a half minutes elapsed in Thursday’s match, he’d already scored twice. He had his third goal with less than 10 minutes gone in the first half.
So consistently dangerous has Banegas has been this fall, one might have thought the Eagles would have put an extra defender on him from the start -- perhaps had one of their players follow him like a shadow everywhere he went. But that’s easier said than done. And New Ulm coach Dave Dake employed a different approach.
“Worthington is just a tough team. They’re very aggressive. Honestly, our plan was to try and beat them at aggressiveness,” Dake said after the game.
So Banegas had no shadow, and he dominated.
“You can do that (shadow him),” Dake admitted. “The thing is, when you do that, they get frustrated. We didn’t want to get them to feel we were targeting. We tried a few different things -- just making sure we played a 5-back instead of a 4-back. It shut down our offense a little bit, but … you can’t just shut down one guy on this team.”
Very well said. The Trojans, seeded No. 1 in the tournament and now armed with an 18-0 record heading into the finals, have other outstanding goal-scorers, too.
Besides, as the saying goes -- you can’t stop Banegas, and chances are you can’t really contain him either.
After the game, Banegas was asked if he woke up on Thursday knowing he was going to have a special night.
“No, I thought I had my team behind me. They just did all they could for me. I just returned the favor and finished all they brought to me,” he said.
His head coach, Juan Flores, could only marvel.
“I think just his movement. He’s just so mobile off the ball. And it’s hard to keep control of a player who moves so well. But he took control of the match.”
The Trojans will play for the section championship and a berth in the state Class AA tournament Tuesday in New Prague at 7:30 p.m. They will take on second-seeded Mankato West, which edged third-seeded Mankato East 5-4 in the other Thursday semifinal, via penalty kick shootout.
Banegas is swift as an arrow. He’s a wizard with his feet and also possesses great anticipation. He’s always happy to make a pass to a teammate, but when he gets a chance to score, he’s as dangerous as they come.
His first goal Thursday against the fourth-seeded Eagles came less than three minutes into the game. It was a high, strong kick from 25 yards away from the middle of the field. Then with 35:32 remaining in the half, he punched another hard kick from 20 yards out, which hit the New Ulm goalie who bent down to retrieve it, but it had enough energy that it bounded over his head and into the net.
A little more than a minute later Banegas made a pass to teammate Santos Orellana, who deflected his scoring shot off an Eagle defender and into the goal from 12 yards away.
Banegas’ third goal came at 30:37 as he took a short forward pass and put it on the far right side of the net.
Elmer Guzman scored the first of his two goals with 5:33 till intermission with a header off a corner kick.
New Ulm scored its only goal with 1:42 remaining in the half on a free kick to the far left side of the Worthington net. Reed Selvey scored it as WHS defender Isaiah Noble just missed deflecting it on a dive.
The lone Eagles goal seemed to get under the skin of the Trojans during halftime. When they returned, Banegas scored his fourth goal just three minutes into the second half by taking a bouncy forward pass. His first shot attempt was blocked by an Eagle, but moments later he took control again and had success.
Goal No. 5 was another attempt and recovery shot. Banegas’ first shot was defensed and the Trojan fell to the ground. But he was back up again in a flash, and easily scored at 34:59.
Goal No. 6 came with 29:15 to go.
Guzman finished up the scoring at 26:55 by punching in a close-range shot by taking it above his waist.
Banegas sat out most of the second half. Flores inserted several reserves for the last 20 minutes.
The team-oriented Banegas, who always prefers to credit his teammates instead of himself, agreed that it’s difficult for teams to place special attention on him alone.
“I had some teams that tried to man-mark me. But it usually doesn’t end well. Because they leave their normal assignments and they leave somebody else open,” he said.
Yeah, it’s not easy trying to defend the Trojans, no matter what the strategy.
New Ulm 1 0 -- 1
Worthington 5 4 -- 9