Hulne: Packers will have to show the balance that got them to Section 1A title game
Published 8:48 pm Monday, October 17, 2016
When the Austin and Northfield boys soccer teams square off in the Section 1A title game in RCTC Stadium in Rochester 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, it’s very likely the Raiders will have their eyes focused sharply on two Packer players.
Northfield will most certainly key on Austin seniors Abel Gebrekiros, who has a team-high 24 goals, and Matias Parada, who has 20 goals. But even if the Gebrekiros and Parada don’t find the back of the net, the Packers could still clinch their first trip to the Class A state tournament since 2009.
That’s because Gebrekrios and Parada are two of the more unselfish scorers you’ll see on a soccer field. It’s also due to the fact that Austin is loaded with players who are capable of scoring a goal. While sophomore Mooday Wah, who has seven goals, is likely out with an injury, Austin still has 15 healthy players that have scored at least one goal this season.
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All those players need is a good look to find the back of the net, and it’s likely Parada and Gebrekiros will be able to find the space and put their teammates in position to succeed.
That balance and unselfishness is part of the reason why it has been so fun to cover the Packers this fall. The team has great chemistry and it is loaded with various personalties that balance each other out.
You have senior defenseman Josh Snee, who is oftentimes screaming out directions or motivational statements from the back line, you have Gebrekiros, who is lethal with his foot, but not big on showmanship, and you have Parada, who is like a coach on the field who has the ability to create a big play in an instant.
The Packers have been able to find a great balance this year, due to some great leadership and coaches alike. Head coach Jens Levisen doesn’t allow his team to get caught up petty things in blaming refs or making excuses and that has made them stronger in the long run. Levisen, and many of the team leaders, never allowed his team to rest on their laurels when they swept all four Rochester schools and received their highest state ranking in school history. They’ve pushed to get better and they have gotten better since day one.
Like Parada said after Saturday’s win, this is “a special team.”
It won’t be easy for Austin to get past a tough Northfield team that always plays the Packer close, but you can bet on the match being an exciting one.
I am certainly looking forward to seeing how this Packer team reacts to its biggest challenge of the year.