Packers settle for 2nd in Big Nine

Published 9:43 pm Thursday, October 4, 2012

Austin's Francisco Torres plays the ball in front of Owatonna's Will Zimmerman during the second half Thursday night at Art Hass Stadium. -- Eric Johnson/

The Packers had their chances, but they couldn’t put away their first Big Nine boys soccer title in school history as Owatonna took home the conference crown with a 1-0 win in Art Hass Stadium Thursday.

The Huskies (10-3-2 overall, 7-0-2 overall) scored with 1:24 left in the contest when Jared Santibanez leaped over the top of a pile of players and headed a shot into the back of the net.

Austin's Omot Okello tries to play the ball out of the air with pressure from Owatonna's Will Kreutter in the second half Thursday night at Art Hass Stadium.

“We knew they were a good team coming in,” Austin senior midfielder Nick Brehmer said. “We played well and we played as a team. Obviously it’s not the ending that we wanted, but this is still an awesome season. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s not over yet.”The Packers (13-3 overall, 7-2 Big Nine) fired off 33 shots, with 15 of them being on goal while the Huskies had nine shots on goal. Austin had six good looks in the last 30 minutes of the game, but they couldn’t find the net.

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Francisco Torres had a shot that went about a foot over the goal and he had a bender that was stopped on a diving save. Omot Okello had a point blank look off a rebound sail over the goal and Jake Hagen-Erickson and Brehmer each had headers that barely missed.

“We created more opportunities,” Austin head coach Jens Levisen said. “The ball hit the post, the ball hits the post again, the ball gets knocked loose and the ball goes over. The guys played hard and they left everything out on the field.”

Austin will now focus on the Section 1A tournament, which will begin next Tuesday.

Levisen said his team will be ready to go, once it fully accepts finishing second in the Big Nine for the second straight season.

“It’ll take a little bit to shake it off. But we’ll shake it off and be ready to go again,” Levisen said.

The Packers now have some fuel to their fire and Brehmer’s hoping the playoffs will give the team a chance to get rid of some of the bad taste the Packers have in their mouths after dropping a heartbreaker to the huskies.

Austin's Nick Brehmer plays the ball off his chest in the first half against Owatonna Thursday night at Art Hass Stadium.

“It puts another perspective on state,” he said. “Our two goals going into this were the Big Nine championship and state, and now that (the Big Nine championship) is out we can focus on state.”