Cards fall to Mankato West in boys soccer 2A title game
NORTH MANKATO -- Like the name implies, a shootout is dramatic, swift and cruel.
One of Willmar soccer's most successful seasons, ever, ended in a Shootout Thursday, the sun setting on the western horizon and the Cardinals' season simultaneously at the Dakota Meadows pitch.
After 100 minutes of riveting, crisply-played soccer, Mankato West beat Willmar in the best-of-5 Shootout 4-2.
That translates into a 1-0 victory and the Section 2A championship and a visit to the Class A quarterfinal round.
"That was a game neither team deserved to lose," said Willmar head coach Jeff Winter.
Neither team could dent the others net in 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime.
Winter sent out the same five he used at Worthington in an overtime Shootout in the quarterfinals. The Willmar shooters went 5-for-5 for the 2-1 win.
Willmar sophomore goalie Charlie Trochlil has been brilliant in the playoffs after spending the regular season as the jayvee tender. Fronted by a tenacious defense, Trochlil had allowed only one goal in four games -- two of them overtime.
But the Scarlets overtime shooters drilled their first four chances, going high or low and to the corners.
David Dominquez and Cesar Jimenez led off for Willmar and both hit a corner. Tim Rogers, whose kicks pack a wallop, fired directly on Zachery Fox who held on for the save.
When Nic Herwig punched the back of the net for West's fourth point, it meant Willmar needed a make to stay alive. But Fox made the kill on a head-on shot by Handerson Tevalan, one of the Cardinals' most talented attackers.
"I don't think he got all of it," Winter said.
It was a crushing defeat and there were many sobbing on the Willmar sideline as the Scarlets and their fans celebrated.
It was the 13th shutout for the West defense, which has given up only 8 goals in building a 15-4-1 record.
Winter noted that in the playoffs, at least, the Scarlets play five defenders instead of the usual four.
"We just couldn't get through their defense," said Winter.
The Cardinals did have opportunities on several rushes, especially by Rogers, but too often Kato managed to just knick the ball preventing a shot.
Still, shots on goal were near even at 10-to-9 in the Scarlets favor.
A crisp north wind blew from the north down the field. Willmar used it to its advantage the game's first 20 minutes possessing the clear territorial advantage.
But West ironed out early problems and the half ended on even terms. With the wind the second half, the Scarlets kept the ball in the Willmar zone much of the time.
It seemed going to a Shootout would provide Willmar's best chance.
But West looked prepared for a Shootout, too.
"It looked like something they'd practiced," said Winter.
Willmar ends up 14-4-2. The victory total ties the 2008 team, coached by Richard Courtney, which won it 14th game in the 2A championship game but then lost 2-0 to The Breck School in the state quarterfinals at St. Cloud State.
Winter said he couldn't be more proud of this squad.
"We had some ups and downs off the field," he said, "but on the field this team really pulled together. We've got a good foundation for the future."
Graham Dahl and Cesar Jimenez were both third-year starters and among seven seniors in their last game.
Mankato West 1, Willmar 0
Willmar (14-4-2) 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Mankato West (15-4-1) 0 0 0 1 -- 1
FIRST HALF - no scoring
SECOND HALF - no scoring
OVERTIME -- no scoring
SHOOTOUT (made kicks) -- Willmar: David Dominquez, Cesar Jimenez ...... Mankato West: Alex Wright, Dan Baack, Bill Leitch, Nic Herwig
SHOTS ON GOAL - Willmar: 9 ... Mankato West: 10
GOALIE SAVES - Willmar: Charlie Trochlil 9 ... Mankato West: Zach Fox 9
DEFENSIVE SAVES - Willmar: Jimenez