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Abdi scores winner with 2 minutes left

MANKATO -- Abdinasir Abdi slipped a goal past the Mankato East defense with just under two minutes left in regulation Tuesday afternoon to give Willmar a 1-0 win in the Section 2A boys soccer semifinals.

The Cardinals' upset of the No. 1 seed gives Willmar home-field advantage on Friday when it hosts No. 7 seed Southwest Minnesota Christian at 3 p.m. in the section championship at Kennedy Elementary's Hodapp Field.

It will be Willmar's first-ever appearance in a section championship in boys soccer.

"Without a doubt this was the best match we've played all year," said Willmar coach Richard Courtney. "I would think this could also qualify as the biggest win in the program's history."

The Cardinals' defense stepped up in the school's biggest match to date, limiting Mankato East to just four shots on goal.

Willmar managed 11 shots on goal to back Steve Kluver's shutout.

Abdi drilled a shot -- which just hovered over the ground -- with his left foot past Mankato East goalkeeper Diego Lozano in the 78th minute after receiving a pass from Abshir Ahmed.

"The goalie slipped a little bit and couldn't get back," said Courtney. "The shot was about only a foot off the ground.

"The kids played hard for 80 minutes and has the match got older we played better. The key to the match was that we played more (players) and we had our legs at the end and I think they didn't."

Mankato East won an earlier meeting, 3-1, in the season in Willmar.

"We know that Southwest Minnesota Christian is an outstanding defensive team," added Courtney. "We are going to have to play just as well Friday to win."

Willmar 1, Mankato East 0

Willmar 0 1 -- 1

Mankato East 0 0 -- 0

FIRST HALF - no scoring

SECOND HALF - Abdinasir Abdi (Abshir Ahmed) 78:06

Shots on goal - Willmar: 11 ... Mankato East: 4

Goalie saves - Willmar: Steve Kluver 3 ... Mankato East: Diego Lozano 10

Defensive saves - Willmar: none ... Mankato East: none