Alexandria boys take care of business against East Grand Forks

A winless East Grand Forks came to town on Tuesday night for a Section 8AA matchup, and the Cardinals did what they were supposed to do on the way to moving to 7-1 overall and 5-0 against section foes.

Alexandria junior Jack Carlson, right, hugs sophomore Cole Haabala after Haabala scored his second goal of the first half during a win over East Grand Forks on Sept. 21, 2021. Carlson also had a first-half goal as the Cardinals led early and never looked back on their way to improving to 7-1-1 on the season. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

The Alexandria boys soccer team had a Section 8AA opponent in town on Tuesday that the Cardinals should have taken care of business against if they’re a front-runner in this section.

Alexandria had no problem doing that in an 8-0 win over East Grand Forks. The Green Wave are the lone winless team in the section at 0-6 as Alexandria (7-1-1) jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Jack Carlson goal within the first couple minutes and never looked back.

Alexandria junior Jack Carlson, right, wins the race to a loose ball in front of East Grand Forks' Cooper Ziegler in the Cardinals' win over the Green Wave on Sept. 21, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

“Everyone can see their record going into this game. We all knew what it was. I was just proud of how we came out,” Alexandria senior defender Colin Reilly said. “Sometimes you have those games where you play to their level. That wasn’t tonight, so I was super proud of the guys for showing our best game.”


This is a senior-laden group for the Cardinals, but sophomore Cole Haabala is also a big piece as an attacker up front. He scored twice in the first half to send Alexandria into halftime up 3-0. He then completed his first-ever varsity hat trick with his third goal late in the second half.

“We just work together real well,” Haabala said. “It’s great having all the seniors. There’s a lot of leaders on this team. I’m just another teammate trying to help the team.”

Alexandria's Myles Sansted lifts up sophomore Cole Haabala as teammate Bryce Paffrath joins in the celebration after Haabala's first of two first-half goals in a win over East Grand Forks on Sept. 21, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

The second half was much of the same as multiple players got in on the scoring. It started with a beautiful connection by the Sansted brothers as Myles sent a ball toward the goal from the right corner, and Peter headed it in for a 4-0 lead less than nine minutes in.

Fellow senior Holden Hansen was up next. He made it 5-0 not long after Sansted’s goal, and senior Taeren Peterson came off the bench to add a goal that made it 6-0. Peterson got on a breakaway and put his shot past Green Wave goalkeeper Jonah Tollefson.

Tollefson made some great saves to keep the game from getting more out of hand, but he did not have much of a chance on most of the shots that got by him. Haabala and Peterson scored just seconds apart late in the game to put the finishing touches on the win.

“We were just playing our game, keeping possession,” Haabala said.


Alexandria senior Colin Reilly sends a ball deep downfield during the Cardinals' win over East Grand Forks on Sept. 21, 2021. Reilly is part of a defensive unit for Alexandria that is allowing less than half a goal per game through a 7-1-1 start. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

Alexandria’s defense and goalkeeper Ryan Meuwissen did not have to work much on Tuesday as the offense controlled the ball, but they collected their fifth shutout. Alexandria has outscored opponents 27-4 through its nine games now.

“We’re just a defensive unit. It’s not a bunch of isolation guys defending,” Reilly said. “We’re all defending as a team really well. We talk to each other a lot. We’re all friends off the field. In practice, if it’s offense versus defense, we take a lot of pride in being defenders, and I think just communication is really carrying our defensive unit right now. We just rarely make mistakes, and we’re trying to keep that going.”

The competition will get tougher with Class AAA’s Brainerd (2-3-2) in town on Thursday before a four-game road trip starts at Rocori on Sept. 28. The Cardinals are excited for the challenges that await after another win on Tuesday.

Alexandria senior Samuel Peterson hits the brakes as he sets up a pass against the defense of East Grand Forks' Said Abdi during the Cardinals' win over the Green Wave on Sept. 21, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

“I think what we’re going to learn is how serious we are as a contender because at some point in the playoffs we’re more than likely not going to be at home,” Reilly said. “Whether that’s the section final at a neutral site, or we don’t get the No.1 seed. So getting road wins is important, and it’s not as easy. Going on the bus, sitting through the JV game, waiting for your game -- it’s hard to stay mentally prepared. We’re really going to see the grit of our team and see if we’re real contenders.”


Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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