Pack on top: Austin wins first ever Big Nine boys soccer title

Published 6:02 pm Saturday, October 7, 2017

ROCHESTER – The Austin boys soccer team put an exclamation part on its best regular season in school history as it beat Rochester Century (4-11 overall, 4-7 Big Nine) 6-1 to lock up the Big Nine title in Rochester Saturday.

It is the first Big Nine title in school history for Austin and it is the first unbeaten regular season the Packers (13-0-2 overall, 10-0-1 Big Nine) have ever produced.

The Austin boys soccer team douses head coach Jens Levisen to celebrate the team’s first ever Big Nine title in Rochester Century Saturday. Rocky Hulne/

Austin head coach Jens Levisen has had the Packers in the hunt for the Big Nine title for much of the past decade and Austin finished second in the conference chase last year. This year, things finally fell into place for the Packers.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s huge. We have a lot of very competitive teams in our conference and to come out with out a loss says a lot about our focus,” Levisen said. “Last year we had a few losses and I don’t want to blame those on focus, but those losses showed us that a loss can happen in any game and we’ve got to show up ready to play all of the time. We have to continue to fight no matter what the score is.”

Austin struck first on Saturday as Muyi Ochogi scored on a header from Sam Bailey to make it 1-0 with 21:57 left in the first half. After Josh Brehmer made a big diving save to preserve the lead, Austin took momentum into halftime after Henry Tolbert, who had two goals in the win, scored on an assist from Mooday Wah with a minute left in the first frame.

The second half saw the Packers come out with a frenzy as Wah and Ortiz each scored in a four-minute stretch to open the frame.

Austin’s Elton Tolbert looks to advance the ball against Rochester Century in Rochester Saturday. Rocky Hulne/

Wah, who moved to Austin from Worthington last year, was pumped to close out the conference title.

“I can’t explain the feeling. I’m just enjoying the moment,” Wah said. “I’ve gotten to know these guys very well. We hang out outside of school a lot too and the chemistry is really good.”

Much of the game was played in driving rain, but they didn’t slow down the Packers as they racked up 22 shots on goal. Brehmer had nine saves for Austin.

Austin’s biggest performance this season came when they tied Rochester Mayo after trailing 3-1 in the second half. Austin also trailed Albert Lea 1-0 in the second half before winning 2-1.

Josh Brehmer makes a save for the Austin boys soccer team in Rochester Saturday. Rocky Hulne/

On Saturday, the Packers were able to take an early lead and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“It was a lot of fun with the field conditions with how muddy it was,” Bailey said. “We played very well and we played our hearts out. We wanted this one really bad and we got it. [Winning the Big Nine] was one of our goals at the beginning of the season and I’m so proud of these guys. In the Worthington and Mayo games we came from behind and we kept our focus. We pushed until the end.”

Kee Reh added a goal for the Packers late in the win.

Austin has won a lot of games this season without relying on one scorer and the team has embraced wins over individual goals. Wah said there is only one goal that he has in mind.

Henry Tolbert advances the ball for the Austin boys soccer team against Rochester Century in Rochester Saturday. Rocky Hulne/

“We only have one goal and that’s to be the best team,” Wah said. “That’s it.”

It’s attitudes like Wah that has Levisen looking forward to the Section 1A tournament, which will begin when the Packers host either Kasson-Mantorville or Caledonia Tuesday at 5 p.m. After dropping the last two Section 1A title games, the Packers are hoping to make a push for their first Minnesota Class A state tournament appearance since 2009.

“One of our greatest strengths is above all, we’re a team. We play as a team, we act as a team and we’re a team in everything we do,” Levisen said. “We’ll enjoy this for today, but then it’s a new season and we’ll be ready to go.”

Austin’s Sam Bailey kicks the ball past Rochester Century’s Andrew Coleman in Rochester Saturday. Rocky Hulne/