ST. CLOUD — Willmar and St. Cloud Tech traded goals early in their Central Lakes Conference match Tuesday at St. Cloud State University, but it was a goal in the 51st minute from Juan Contreras that allowed the Cardinals to collect a 2-1 win in their second-to-last match of the regular season.
The Tigers struck first 5 minutes into the match, but Willmar (5-3-2, 9-4-2) answered back just a couple of minutes later when Nick McLouth scored on a Teza Harrison pass.
The teams, who settled for a 2-2 tie on Sept. 5 in Willmar, then turned up their defensive modes. The score remained knotted at 1-1 until Contreras put a shot past Tigers goalkeeper David Scharenbroch 11 minutes into the second half. Alex McLouth, who scored the Cardinals’ only goal in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Alexandria, assisted on the game-winner.
“We had a couple of chances to go up 3-1, but their goalie made some nice saves,” said Willmar coach Jeff Winter. “This was by far our best team-played game of the season. It’s a great time to be peaking, heading into the playoffs.”
The Cardinals are in position to grab the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Section 2A playoffs, meaning they would get a first-round bye. A seed lower than that would put Willmar in action on Monday at Kennedy Elementary. But before that Willmar hosts Brainerd on Thursday for Senior Night in its regular-season finale.
Senior goalie Charlie Trochlil made 7 saves for the Cardinals as Willmar outshot the Tigers 18-10 and had Brady Damhof and Jaden Wright both earn a defensive save.
Willmar 2, SC Tech 1
Willmar (5-3-2, 9-4-2) 1 1 — 2
SC Tech (4-3-1, 9-3-3) 1 0 — 1
FIRST HALF – SCT: Moulid Keynan (Mohamud Aden) 5:00 … Wil: Nick McLouth (Teza Harrison) 7:00
SECOND HALF – Wil: Juan Contreras (Alex McLouth) 51:00
SHOTS ON GOAL – Willmar: 18 … St. Cloud Tech: 10
GOALIE SAVES – Willmar: Charlie Trochlil 7 … St. Cloud Tech: David Scharenbroch 16
DEFENSIVE SAVES – Willmar: Brady Damhof 1, Jaden Wright 1