Card boys' soccer: One strike does the trickA late goal by Nick Heseltine was all the Cards needed to win
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Through more than 70 minutes on Tuesday night, both the Brainerd and Alexandria boys’ soccer teams saw some solid scoring chances slip through their fingers.
Then with one perfectly placed ball, the Cardinals’ Nick Heseltine made his team forget all about that. Heseltine set up for a free kick from 30 yards out with about eight minutes left in a scoreless tie and was thinking one thing.
“I really just wanted to put it on net,” he said. “We really needed a good shot, so I was just hoping to put it somewhere near where he couldn’t reach it. On that one, I was definitely thinking to score, just looking to put it past him.”
That’s exactly what the senior co-captain did. Heseltine lofted a perfectly placed ball high and just over the outstretched arms of the Brainerd keeper. That sent his team into a frenzy as they celebrated what they felt at the time would be the game-winning goal.
“I think it’s huge because they were definitely starting to press us really hard,” Heseltine said of getting that kind of goal so late in a scoreless game. “Once we got that, the momentum totally changed. We controlled the game for the last 10 minutes.”
Up until that point, the Warriors had made life difficult for junior goalkeeper Zach Lamb. Brainerd attacked the net aggressively during a stretch almost 10 minutes into the second half. The Warriors just missed a shot to the right of the post before a shot lofted over a charging Lamb bounced left of the net.
Lamb left Brainerd frustrated with missed opportunities throughout the night. The Warriors were the aggressors in the early portion of the game. Lamb made his best save during that stretch when he dived back to his left and grabbed a low line drive shot to thwart a 2-on-1 break for the Warriors.
“When the ball is moving that fast, you don’t have time to think,” Lamb said. “It’s all adrenaline, and you don’t have time to think. You just go with the flow.”
It was the first shutout of the season for an Alexandria team that improved to 3-1 with the win. The Cardinals’ offense was instrumental with six goals in their first two wins. After a 2-0 loss to Willmar last Thursday, it was Lamb and his defense that stepped up to make sure their team got back on track.
“We got a really good defense,” Lamb said. “Matt [Pilgrim] and Tyler [Lenarz] and Cody [Call] and Tre [Forester] are really good guys. We’ve been playing together a while, so we know how each other works, and we really play well together. I have to give a lot of credit to the defense because they’ve stopped more goals than I have.”
It’s a defense and a team loaded with 13 seniors on this roster. That experience coupled with a fast start has this team confident in the early portion of the season.
“I think we definitely stand a great chance of pushing our way through the playoffs,” Heseltine said. “We can contend with any team that’s in our section and conference, I think.”