Willmar records 10th win
WILLMAR -- Say this about the Willmar boys soccer team -- they don't want fans leaving early.
The play-it-close Cardinals won their school record 10th game, the ninth by one goal.
This time it was 2-1 over visiting Central Minnesota Christian School Monday at Hodapp Field.
It was the first time Willmar has beaten the Bluejays in three meetings.
Josh Aslesen's second goal of the game, three minutes into the second half, broke a 1-all tie.
Willmar coach Richard Courtney said he'd like to see his front six finish better, but he added: "We do know how to protect a lead."
Despite just one win, the Bluejays were a test, putting 15 shots on Danny King in the Willmar net. CMCS senior attacker Adam Mikelson scored from close in the first minute of the second half to tie the game 1-1.
But Mikelson found little room to maneuver near the Willmar cage.
"They don't allow anything down the middle," he said.
"They really go after every ball to get the first touch. They're aggressive that way and their keeper plays the angles well."
King faced Mikelson from 30 feet on a penalty shot midway through the second half. Fortunately for King, the ball came right at him chest high and he deflected it back out, and then made a sprawling save to stuff a Bluejays' follow-up.
"I shanked it," said Mikelson gravely, recalling missed opportunity.
The double save brought loud cheers from the sideline. It may have been the largest crowd ever to attend a Cardinals' soccer game at Hodapp.
Aslesen, a junior valued at both forward and sweeper, scored from 40 feet on Bluejays' keeper Eric Marcus on a three-man rush a little more than two minutes after Mikelson's goal had tied the game.
Bluejays' coach Kevin Wassenaar said he was proud of his kids for sticking with a good team that is in the thick of the Central Lakes Conference race.
"It wasn't an easy game," said the CMCS coach. "Defensively, they made us work. Their keeper -- King, well his name says it all. I think with an average goalie we would have had one or two more goals today."
Marcus also made some big plays at the other end, halting 17 of 19 Willmar shots.
Willmar has offensive talent but hasn't scored more than twice in a game since its opening 4-0 win over Minnewaska Aug. 25.
"I thought we passed well most of the game and had a lot of chances, especially in the second half," said Courtney. "Credit Central Minnesota Christian, they could have tied us up several times."
Willmar returns to conference play today against St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m. at St. Cloud State.
CMCS hosts its annual double-header playing Southwest Minnesota Christian on Friday and Fergus Falls Hillcrest on Saturday, both in Prinsburg.
Willmar 2, CMCS 1
Central Minn. Christian (1-7-1) 0 1 -- 1
Willmar (10-2) 1 1 -- 2
FIRST HALF - Wil: Josh Aslesen (Luis Estrada) 2:12
SECOND HALF - CMCS: Adam Mikelson 40:43 ... Wil: Aslesen (Sergio Flores) 43:00
Shots on goal - Central Minnesota Christian: 7-8-15 ... Willmar: 7-12-19
Goalie saves - Central Minnesota Christian: Eric Marcus 6-11-17 ... Willmar: Danny King 7-7-14