The Alexandria boys soccer team knew things would be tough in the Section 8A-North title game against Bemidji on Tuesday after dropping an 8-0 game to the Lumberjacks on Oct. 5.
That game was part of three straight losses for the Cardinals to end the regular season, but they responded in the playoffs. Two straight wins over Hillcrest Lutheran and Pelican Rapids set up a rematch against the Lumberjacks, but Bemidji was too much again in a 6-0 final that ended Alexandria’s season.
“(We) played an incredible season, showing true grit in finding a passion for the sport and the team,” Alexandria head coach Brandon Johnson said. “A milestone set for us at the front side of the year was to have at least a .500 record, and these young men fought to keep that record alive.”
Alexandria finished 9-9-1 overall, with Bemidji moving its record to 13-2-1 ahead of a showdown with St. Cloud Tech for the 8A championship on Oct. 17.
The Lumberjacks wasted no time setting the tone in Tuesday’s game. They scored on back-to-back corner kicks in the sixth and seventh minutes. They added two more goals before the half to take a 4-0 lead into the break.
“We knew the chances of winning were slim, so the team, having an honest moment at half, changed their mindset and decided to finish the second half enjoying the beautiful game we love with a team who plays with heart and heat,” Johnson said.
Bemidji scored again in the 42nd and 80th minute to make for the 6-0 final. Ryan Meuwissen played all 80 minutes in net and faced 18 shots. Alexandria held possession for 42.6% of the game, but the Cardinals got just four shots on goal.
“Making history throughout the season proved the norm for this team and going to the semifinal round in playoffs was a sweet way to end our season,” Johnson said.
Alex takes down second seed
The Cardinals got to that game by going on the road and winning a 3-2 game against second-seeded Pelican Rapids on Monday.
Both teams traveled to Fergus Falls after the game was postponed from Saturday. Alexandria’s Jacob Partington broke the ice with a goal in the 38th minute with an assist from Thomas Klecker. The Vikings scored in the final minutes of the first half, sending both teams into the break tied 1-1.
In the 56th minute, Graham Peterson sent a crossing pass to Joshua Kietzmann, who slid the ball by the goalkeeper for the go-ahead goal.
Kietzmann scored his fourth goal of the playoffs by beating two Pelican Rapids’ defenders in the 59th minute. Lucas Harstad assisted the goal that put the Cardinals up 3-1 and turned out to be the game winner.
The Vikings cut the lead in half two minutes later with a penalty kick goal after a pushing foul. However, good ball control and smart possessions drained out the clock as Alexandria lived to fight another day.