Appreciation for the game: Austin’s Biranu is grateful after scoring twice in a big win

Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Gadisa Biranu has learned a lot about life and a lot about soccer this summer.

When he had a shining moment on the soccer field for the Austin U18 boys soccer team, Biranu, who moved to Austin from Ethiopia three years ago, was thinking about those who got him there.

Makias Anderson and Henry Tolbert celebrate after Tolbert scored a goal for the Austin U18 boys soccer team in Wescott Athletic Complex Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

Biranu scored two goals as Austin downed Worthington 5-0 in Wescott Athletic Complex Wednesday night, but he wasn’t thinking about his goals, he was thinking about his social worker, Tarsha Lebarron, who covered his fee for playing soccer this summer.

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“I really want to thank (Lebarron) for what she’s done for me. She pushed me hard for this game and she helped me play this summer,” said Biranu, who will be a senior this fall. “It’s been a very, very good summer. The team has taught me a lot. I’ve been respectful to the coaches and made sure to pass the ball.”

Austin’s U18 team includes a big chunk of the Packer roster that has taken third place in the Minnesota Class A State Boys Soccer Tournament in each of the past fall and the group put an exclamation point on their summer soccer season by finishing 10-0 overall after winning their final home game.

Lucas Howard handles the ball for the Austin U18 boys soccer team against Worthington in Wescott Athletic Complex Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

Kee Reh gave Austin a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick early on and Henry Tolbert had an assist and a goal in the second half to put the game away. Tolbert was a little winded as he arrived a little late to the game after a two-hour car ride from the twin cities.

“I was pretty tired and I didn’t sleep well last night, but I found some energy,” Tolbert said. “We had to work pretty hard this summer. We were short on players and we had to recruit some guys.”

Austin won its division and it will compete in the C2 state tournament July 24-27.

Austin’s Igor Blinklow clears the ball for the Austin U18 boys soccer team against Worthington Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/