Packers take it to Winona

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, September 29, 2011

Austin's Francisco Torres brings the ball up-field against Winona during the first half Thursday night at Art Hass Stadium. - Eric Johnson/

The Packers had to wait a year, but they got their revenge for last year’s playoff loss.

Austin, which lost to Winona (9-2-1 overall, 4-1-0 Big Nine) in a shootout in the Section 1A boys soccer tournament last season, took out its anger in a 2-0 win over the Winhawks in Art Hass Stadium Thursday.

“We’ve been waiting for this all year,”said Austin defenseman Zach Vierkandt. “We wanted to come out and prove that last year was a joke and that we’re the better team. It feels good to shut them out too.”

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It was the third shutout this week for the Packers (6-3-3 overall, 4-1-2 Big Nine), who got their offense going early on Thursday.

Jake Hagen-Erickson launched a 25-yard direct kick into the upper left corner of the net in the 27th minute to make it 1-0.

Austin's Tyler Stevens holds off Winona's Emmet Hedin during the first half Thursday night at Art Hass Stadium. - Eric Johnson/

“We need that spark and when we come out and score right away it gets us fired up and ready for the night,” Hagen-Erickson said. “(This win) is a huge statement. That’s their first loss of the season in the conference.”

Hagen-Erickson netted his 14th goal of the season when he got free in the 58th minute and fired a point blank shot around Winona keeper Kennedy Emerson.

From that point, Austin stayed aggressive as it controlled possession and finished with nine shots on goal. Austin keeper Collin Weisert had six saves, but only one wasn’t routine when he made a jumping one-handed save with 20:47 left in the game.

It was the third game in four days for the Packers, who didn’t show many signs of fatigue.

“This is one they wanted,” Austin head coach Jens Levisen said. “We were hungry for this one, no doubt about it. It had been on the priority list since the start of the season.”

Austin’s defense stepped up as Winona was shut out for just the second time this season.

The Packers have now forced six shutouts on the season.

“All four of us are working as a team back there,” Vierkandt said. “When we’re working and talking good it’s hard to get it through.”

Austin’s offense has gotten a boost from the tireless attacks of Hagen-Erickson and Francisco Torres.

Hagen-Erickson said there’s not much time to get tired when taking run after run at the net.

“I definitely get discouraged (when getting stopped),” he said. “But you’ve got to keep going hard at the net; it’s conditioning.”