Boys soccer: Cards stun Apollo
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals boys soccer team will take a three-game winning streak and the evidence that they can play with the best in Class A.
Wait, not just compete, but beat 'em.
The Cardinals never trailed against St. Cloud Apollo, ranked No. 1 by Minnesota-Scores, while taking a 3-2 win on a chilly evening at the Kennedy pitch on Thursday.
"The boys played like I knew they could," said coach Jeff Winter, though admitting he was "fairly surprised" to see the team end the Eagles' 12-match unbeaten streak.
Junior attacker Ezequiel Gomez scored his first goal of the season and then senior forward Junior Becerra punched in Willmar's next two for a 3-1 lead.
But the key was defense; Apollo had body slammed the Cardinals 7-2 at St. Cloud on Sept. 11.
Winter assigned senior defender Joe Leuze to man-up on Eagles' midfieldr Said Gure, who had a hat trick the first meeting. Gure did slip free for an instant to tie the game 1-1 in the first half but that was it.
Additionally, defenders Wilson Esquivel and David Dominquez took turns shadowing the Eagles' rangy midfielder Hamse Abdule.
"We noticed the first game that the offense flows through him," said Winter.
Winter was also saw that the Eagles' strength is attacking.
"I told the guys if we could get behind their midfielders we could beat their defense and their goalie," said Winter.
Gomez, assisted by Dominquez, got in tight and scored unopposed on Eagles' sophomore goalie Coloper Gray. Both Becerra goals were on well-placed shots from the wing cross the goal mouth and inside the post.
Willmar goalie Charlie Trochlil came in with back-to-back shutouts and was near perfect again. The second Apollo goal was a freakish clearing shot off the face of Absule, who left the game briefly in some pain.
Willmar (4-7, 8-8), ranked No. 7 before the season finale, should leap a couple spots in the 2A QRF rankings and will have a home game next week.
Willmar 3, SC Apollo 2
SC Apollo 1 1 -- 2
Willmar 2 1 -- 3
FIRST HALF - Wil: Ezequiel Gomez (David Dominquez) 22:00 .... Apo: Said Gure 31:00 ... Wil: Junior Becerra (Christian Vallecillo) 34:00
SECOND HALF - Wil: Becerra (Ezequiel Gomez) 56 :00.... Apo: Hamse Abdule 65:00
SHOTS ON GOAL - St. Cloud Apollo: 9 ... Willmar: 14
GOALIE SAVES - St. Cloud Apollo: Cooper Gray 10 ... Willmar: Charlie Trochlil 7
Defensive save: Cory Waldron, Apollo.