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WHS wins key boys soccer contest, 2-1

Trojans vs Albert Lea 1
Worthington soccer player Menkem Mehri (8) battles with Albert Lea's Traw Daw (15) Saturday in Worthington. (Aaron Hagen/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Walking back to the post-game huddle, Jesus Lozano took off his jersey, twisted it between his hands, and let the sweat drip off.

“It’s really hot,” Lozano said afterward.

In the heat and humidity Saturday afternoon, Lozano played all 80 minutes for the Worthington boys soccer team.

“I’m feeling kind of tired,” he said.

But it was all worth it for the junior captain as the Trojans came away with a 2-1 victory over Albert Lea.

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“It’s big,” WHS head coach Juan Flores said. “We needed it because this is a section game. When it comes to that, we have to get wins against opponents that we don’t play that often. This is a win that’s going to be key for us. We want to get a home game in the playoffs.”

After the Trojans started the season 3-1-1, it’s been tough going as of late. In the last five games, WHS lost four and tied once.

“Ever since we’ve been taking losses, we try to motivate each other to get better,” Lozano said. “People on the team, we try to improve in practice and try to get everyone focused during practice. We know practice affects a lot on the field.”

One of the issues for Worthington has been finishing offensively. So when Lozano scored the game’s first goal six minutes in, it was a huge confidence boost.

“If we get a goal, that’s what motivates our team and gets us pushing more,” Lozano said. “Usually if the other team scores, it’s like our team goes down.”

On the goal, Guadalupe Padilla had a corner kick. He sent a pass to Lozano, who knocked it in.

“That was my hope, to get a goal early. We haven’t been ahead a lot during our games. To get ahead in this game, I think that helped the kids and motivated them a little bit,” Flores said. “We were always missing that finishing piece. I think today, we didn’t take care of all of our chances, but we put in the ones that mattered.”

However, the Tigers answered. Lei Htoo scored on a penalty kick in the final 13 minutes of the first half to even the score.

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Rain began to fall at the end of the first half, which extended halftime to a nearly 40 minute break.

“We talked about it at halftime when we were in the locker room and I just said, this is a beatable team,” Flores said. “But we have to put all the pieces together and get out there and play.”

It was the Trojans who made the next big play.

With 27 minutes remaining, Peda Zeba had a run up the right side and kicked it toward the net. The AL keeper made the save, but the deflection bounced to Edgar Carrillo, who flew threw the air and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal.

“I saw a chance and I took that chance I had,” Carrillo said. “Once I saw it go in net, everything went in slow motion in my head.”

In the final minutes, Albert Lea pushed hard at the Worthington goal.

“I knew we were all tired, but we had to keep going,” Lozano said. “We couldn’t let them score another one. We had to win the game and finish through.”

WHS keeper Ricardo Rodriguez and the defense held, sending Worthington to its first victory since Sept. 5.

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“It feels good being back. After we came in shaky, we have to come in harder and better. We have to play harder,” Carrillo said. “I don’t want to keep on losing. The reason we won today is we played as a team. If we keep on playing as a team, we can keep getting more wins.”

The Trojans are at Mankato Loyola on Monday and return home Tuesday against Marshall.

“We only have a few games left and we’re going to try to win as many as possible and hopefully make it pretty far in playoffs,” Lozano said.

Albert Lea 1 0 -- 1

Worthington 1 1 -- 2

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