A lot of fight left: Packers close out regular season with a big win

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, October 6, 2022

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The Austin boys soccer team put the finishing touches on what has been a uniquely challenging season when they took down Mankato West 2-1 in Art Hass Stadium Thursday.

Juju Thwang scored eight minutes into the game to give Austin a 1-0 lead and he found Kaleb Tadesse for a breakaway goal to make it 2-0 just a minute into the second half.

The Packers (5-10-1 overall) aren’t used to putting up sub .500 seasons like this year, but they are hardly letting their heads hang. Instead, they are focused on the improvements they’ve made in an odd year that has seen them shorthanded on many nights

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We’ve really played really well together and we’re playing great as a team. We’re moving the ball better and we’re just getting better as a team,” Austin senior captain Andrew Keenan said. “The feeling around us is that we’re underdogs, but we know we’ve been here before. We know the expectation and the goal is obviously state. Our goals are set and we may be the underdog, but we’re not feeling like the underdog.”

The Scarlets (5-6-3 overall) pulled to within 2-1 when they scored off a header with 27:11 left in the game, but Austin’s defense held stern for the rest of the contest.

The Packers have now clinched a home game in the opening round of the Section 1AA Tournament next week and Austin is also the host site of the Section 1AA title game this year. Austin senior captain Joe Ewing said the team treated Thursday’s contest much like a playoff game.

“Before the game, it was almost like the calm before the storm in the locker room,” Ewing said. “We got a goal in the first half, but it wasn’t how we wanted to play. We came out in the second half with pure passion and pure fire. I’m so proud of how we played in that second half.”

Austin finished with 12 shots on goal and Dane Mitchell had eight saves in net. Austin head coach Jens Levisen was pleased with the effort his team gave.

“We knew that Mankato West had some competitive games and we knew they would be a very valid opponent,” Levisen said. “We had to keep that focus all the way to the end of the game. We were both physical and when it gets physical, it’s easy to play with emotion instead of thinking. It was good how we responded.”