WILLMAR -- The Willmar boys soccer team set up a big match on Thursday with a solid 3-0 win over Sauk Rapids on Tuesday at Kennedy Field.
The Cardinals' defense played strong in a game marred by 34 fouls, six yellow cards and red cards that sent a Storm player to the bench and a Sauk Rapids assistant coach to the bus.
The Cardinals scored a first-half goal and two more in the second to improve to 7-1-2 in the Central Lakes Conference and 11-2-2 overall.
The victory leaves the Cardinals tied with Sartell for first place under the CLC's points system heading into Thursday game at St. Cloud Apollo, which also is hovering near the lead. The match is at 7 p.m.
Willmar head coach Jeff Winter said that where the Cardinals finish is dependant on several variables, especially since Apollo has another CLC match remaining after the Eagles play Willmar on Thursday.
"We could finish first, we could finish second, we could finish third," said Winter, noting that Apollo handed Willmar its only CLC loss this season. "It all depends on what we do and what happens with Sartell and Apollo."
On Tuesday, Willmar's Tim Rogers opened the scoring early on a free kick in the fourth minute. Juan Gomez scored in the 59th minute on an assist from Cesar Jimenez, and then Rogers assisted on Jimenez's goal in the 78th minute.
Defensively, the Cardinals played a solid game, Winter said, adding that defender David Dominguez was his pick for player of the game.
Remigio Becerra, usually a midfielder, started and won his third straight game in goal. Becerra is subbing for regular goalie Joaquin Espinoza, who is out with an injury.
"We're a little banged up, which happens at the end of the season typically," Winter said. "Some bumps and bruises and a couple of kids are sick. But I thought we played a real good game on defense. The whole unit played quite well."
The Section 2A seeding meeting is today, and while he isn't sure yet where the Cardinals will fall, they'll likely be a middle-of-the-pack seed, Winter said.
Willmar 3, Sauk Rapids 0
Sauk Rapids 0 0 -- 0
Willmar 1 2 -- 3
FIRST HALF - Wil: Tim Rogers 4:00
SECOND HALF - Wil: Juan Gomez (Cesar Jimenez) 59:00 ... Wil: Jimenez (Rogers) 78:00
SHOTS ON GOAL - Sauk Rapids: 6 ... Willmar: 11
GOALIE SAVES - Sauk Rapids: Chris Rothstein 8 ... Willmar: Remigio Becerra 6
St. Peter 3, CMC 2
St. Peter scored twice in the first 28 minutes of the match and Central Minnesota Christian couldn't catch up in a match at St. Peter.
CMCS' (2-9-1) Chris Van Dyken scored late in the first half, the first of three goals scored in a five-minute span in the first and second halves. Nate Gerdes scored on a penalty kick in the 43rd minute for CMCS.
CMCS 1 1 -- 2
St. Peter 2 1 -- 3
FIRST HALF - SP: Melic Thomas 14:00 ... SP: Sam Peterson 27:00 ... CMCS: Chris Van Dyken 38:00
SECOND HALF - SP: Marty Johnson 42:00 ... CMCS: Nate Gerdes PK 43:00
SHOTS ON GOAL - CMCS: 10 ... Home: 9
GOALIE SAVES - CMCS: Zach Zwart 5 ... St. Peter: Devin Idso 8
DEFENSIVE SAVES - CMCS: Aaron Wubben 1