Hulne: Soccer team has reason to hold its head high

Published 7:58 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2019

In sports, it is often said that a team left it all out on the field.

The phrase is not meant to be taken literally as I have yet to see a player being carted off the field due to “too much hustle.”

However, there are certainly teams that go the extra mile — whether it be in glorious victory or stunning defeat.

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The Austin boys soccer team gave it everything they had when the Packers lost to St. Cloud Tech 2-1 by shootout in the state tournament last week, and they have nothing to hang their heads about. In a game that lasted nearly three hours, the Packers went through a physical and emotional roller coaster that saw everything they had worked for come to an end in a split second.

Multiple Packer players were frozen in shock on the field and many tears were flowing. But a moment of encouragement came from the Austin crowd, which had traveled two hours and most likely returned home at 1 a.m. on a weeknight to support their Packers. As the Packers were mourning their loss, a few fans shouted out to them “get over here, you guys did great!”

Almost like they had awoken from a slumber, the Packers gathered together and ran by their supporters, throwing out high fives to everyone within range.

The loss still stung, and the tears may have been flowing, but the Packers could walk away knowing that they didn’t let anybody down.

It was not a lack of effort or lack of skill that doomed the Packers, it was just a simple set of circumstances that set them back. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.

Although they didn’t bring home the state championship trophy, the Packers have a lot to celebrate. The team has won three straight conference titles and advanced to three straight Minnesota Class A State Tournaments, taking third twice. That’s a whole lot of winning and the Packers have done it with class.

They deserved every cheer they received during the loss to St. Cloud Tech, and Austin isn’t going anywhere in the near future as the town of Austin is stocked with soccer talent and work ethic in all age groups.

It will be fun to see how next year’s returning players respond to the heartbreak of 2019 in 2020. No matter what happens, Austin’s next season will likely end with them high fiving their fans — an awesome tradition that has carried on for at least a decade.