Soccer: Packer boys come together to beat Albert LeaPublished 9:35pm Thursday, October 10, 2013
The Packer boys soccer team has come along way this year and it showed during the Section 1A quarterfinals at Art Hass Stadium Thursday.
No. 2 seeded Austin controlled the tempo and the ball for much of the night as they beat No. 7 seeded Albert Lea 2-0 and they will now advance to the Section 1A semifinals, where they will host No. 3 Byron Saturday at 7 p.m.
Being in the Section 1A semifinals was not a guarantee for the Packers when they began this season, but that’s exactly where they are now.
“It was a little nerve racking in the beginning (of the playoffs),” Austin sophomore Ryan Kempen said. “Once you settle in, it’s just like any game except the stakes are a little bigger. It’s a lot more fun and a lot more intense.”
The Packers (7-6-5 overall) started the season a little slow this year, but Austin head coach Jens Levisen said he kept the emphasis on playing the season for a reason.
At one point of the season he sat the squad down and asked how many of them had played more than three games of varsity soccer before this year. When just three players raised their hand, the perspective was understood.
“I told them that we need to focus on having fun first and since then things have started to fall into place,” Levisen said. “Guys are starting to play their position, they’re playing hard, they’re playing passes and they’re winning balls in the air. It almost seems easy when you get that flow established.”
The Packers had plenty of fun on Thursday as Roel Torres launched a one-hopper into the net from 28 yards out with 23:40 left in the first half.
“There was a lot of adrenaline flowing. Our team had a goal to get a goal in the early on and we did it,” Torres said. “We’ve worked hard and we’re developing some great chemistry with this new team.”
Austin added to its lead when Noah Brehmer lobbed a pass over the top and Ochan Ochogi headed it in to make it 2-0 with 16:27 left in the game.
Austin tallied 14 shots on goal and Abraham Manzano had just three saves on goal for the Packers.
The only time the Tigers (7-10-1 overall) came close to scoring was with 26:57 left in the game when a shot deflected off of Manazano’s hand and Kempen had to come sprinting over and clear the ball in front of the net.
“It was kind of quick thinking just to get it out,” Kempen said.
The Packers received three yellow cards in the first half and AL had one card in the second half.
“Any time we get a card for dissent I’m not pleased with that,” Levisen said. “Players know they should not question an official. I’ll accept a card for hard play if it wasn’t a dirt play. I don’t promote, but I’ll accept it for certain reasons.”
The Packers just played Byron (10-3-4 overall) to a 1-1 tie last Saturday and the two teams will square off again in Art Hass this Saturday night. The Bears beat Red Wing 2-0 Thursday.