Packers prove their worth

Published 10:51 pm Thursday, September 15, 2011

Austin's Franco Ortiz celebrates his goal with teammates in the first half Thursday night against No. 7 Mankato East. Austin went on to tie East 3-3. - Eric Johnson/

Over the past two weeks, the Austin boys soccer team has definitely proved that it belongs with Minnesota’s elite teams.

They’re just not sure where they rank amongst the top squads.

Austin's Jordan Bentley fends off Mankato East's Brandon Welter during the first half Thursday night at Art Hass Stadium. - Eric Johnson/

The Packers tied a tough opponent for the third straight match when they played even with No. 7 ranked Mankato East with a score of 3-3 at Art Hass Stadium Thursday.

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Austin recently tied with Rochester Mayo and St. Paul Como Park as well.

“We played good soccer in all of the games except for maybe five minutes in each of them,” Austin midfielder Nick Brehmer said. “We’ve just got to make it 80 good minutes.”

Brehmer had a chance to give Austin (2-0-3 overall, 1-0-2 Big Nine) an overtime win when Francisco Torres found him with a pass in front of the net from about 15 yards out. Brehmer got off a good shot but it drifted wide right of the net.

“It was a little bit of adrenaline I guess. I’d give a lot to get that kick back,” Brehmer said.

Austin’s Barush Terrazas also had a chance at the game-winner with 25 seconds left when he had a baseline shot got tipped away by an East defender.

Austin's Tyler Stevens steps up on Mankato East's Mohamud Ahmed during the first first half Thursday night at Art Hass Field. - Eric Johnson/

The match ended with Austin having the ball in the Cougars’ zone but they couldn’t get one last shot off.

“In overtime I felt like we were back to moving the ball pretty well and creating opportunities,” Austin head coach Jens Levisen said. “The ‘W’ would’ve been nice, but we’re five games into the season and we’ve tied two ranked teams. I think the guys know how they would do against these teams if they were to meet them again.”

The Cougars (3-3-1 overall, 2-1-1 Big Nine) opened the second half in dramatic fashion as they netted two goals in a two-minute span to tie the match at 3-3.

Brandon Welter got free on a breakaway to score in the 43rd minute and Ricardo Cano-Hernandez tied the match up with a point blank look in the 44th minute.

The Cougars could’ve taken the lead, but Austin keeper Collin Weisert, who had eight saves, made a diving stop and a couple of leaping saves to keep his team in it.

Austin opened the match by scoring three goals in the first 23 minutes.

Austin's Francisco Torres tries to split a trio of Mankato East defenders Thursday night in the first half at Art Hass Stadium. - Eric Johnson/

Jake Hagen-Erickson got loose on a pass from Torres and he scooted around a defender to fire one in to make it 1-0. Franco Ortiz made it 2-0 when he got free after picking up a loose ball and booted one through. Torres made it 3-0 when he knocked in a direct kick over the Cougar defense.

“It was like ‘woah.’ I think we surprised ourselves there a little bit (with that start),” Levisen said. “We knew it would be a good match and East is a good team. I think they were pretty shocked to be down two at halftime and they came out ready in the second half.”

East’s only goal of the first half came when Mohamud Ahmed bent one in from about 20-yards out in the 24th minute.

While East scored three tough goals, Brehmer wasn’t about to point any fingers. In fact, he gave the Austin defense a lot of credit.

“The defense always takes a hard rap because people blame them when there’s eleven people on the field,” he said. “Even the forwards are supposed to play defense and the midfields are always supposed to play defense. Our ‘D’ has only given up five goals in five games. We’ve got one of the best defenses and they’re very underrated.”