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Boys soccer: Cards all smiles

Willmar beats Rockford/HLWW 9-0 to open Section 6AA playoffs.

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Cardinals junior midfielder Idd Ali smiles after finding the back of the net with teammate Miguel Altamirano Toruno trailing him during a Section 6AA playoffs match against Rockford/HLWW on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, at Willmar High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — The Rockford/Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Rockets parked the bus from the very get-go against Willmar to keep the game knotted at 0-0 before the Cardinals let out their frustrations on the scoreboard, scoring nine second-half goals en route to a 9-0 victory on Saturday.

The top-seeded Cardinals, who dominated possession and spent almost the entirety of the game in the attacking third, broke the tie against the eighth-seeded Rockets early in the second-half thanks to junior midfielder Idd Ali in the 45th minute and never looked back in the Section 6AA quarterfinal match.

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Willmar added eight more goals in 35 minutes to advance to the semifinals against fifth-seeded Becker.

“It was super frustrating. I think the players were more frustrated than I was,” Willmar head coach Jeff Winter said of the first half. “I am very pleased with step one. … The next steps look good too, but we have to take it one game at a time.”

Ali went on to score Willmar’s next two goals to earn a hat trick across a span of 13 minutes, breaking the game wide open.

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Willmar wins 9-0 over the Rockets to advance to the Section 6AA semifinals.

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Cardinals junior midfielder Idd Ali celebrates a goal scored near midfield during a Section 6AA playoffs match against Rockford/HLWW on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, at Willmar High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

“Idd’s motor never stops. He works so hard to create opportunities for himself or for his teammates,” Winter said. “He’s definitely a leader for us on the field and we feed off of him.”

Willmar’s shutout win comes with program accolades for senior goalkeeper Andrew Ziebarth.

Ziebarth never had to make a save en route to recording his 11th shutout this season, as the Cardinals outshot the Rockets 26-0. His 11th shutout beats Zach Courtney’s program-record for most shutouts in a single-season (10).

Alongside holding the program-record for most shutouts in a single-season, Ziebarth is now tied with Manny Obregon for the most career shutouts in program history (21).

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Cardinals senior defender Kadar Muhumed battles for possession of the ball with Rockford/HLWW's Mario Figueroa during a Section 6AA playoffs match between Willmar and the Rockets on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, at Willmar High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Ziebarth has allowed 11 goals in 17 games this season. He has allowed two or more goals in two games.

“It feels good. I had nine (shutouts) last year and I saw the record was 11 — that I can maybe accomplish that this year (and I did),” Ziebarth said. “I’ve been working hard. The defense has been great this year.”

The Cardinals saw their last six goals come from six different players, including a header from junior midfielder Ivan Mares-Ciriaco, a penalty kick from Ziebarth and a free kick from freshman midfielder Hermis Alvarado Reyes.

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Mares-Ciriaco’s goal marked his first this season. Alvarado Reyes’ goal marked the first of his varsity career.

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Cardinals junior striker Isaac Zelaya Velasquez (right) celebrates a goal scored by teammate Ivan Mares-Ciriaco (left) during a Section 6AA playoffs match against Rockford/HLWW on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, at Willmar High School.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Willmar’s dominating second-half allowed Winter to utilize his deep roster and allocate minutes to players on his bench that normally do not regularly see a ton of minutes.

“It’s actually pretty amazing to be honest,” Ali said of Willmar’s second-half. “Our team is very hardworking, and I know if we keep that up, we will go very far.”

The Cardinals play host to Becker in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Willmar High School.

Willmar beat Becker earlier this season, defeating the Bulldogs, 2-1, on Oct. 1.

“It’ll definitely be closer than Saturday’s game,” Winter said of the team’s matchup against Becker. “We expect them to feed their tall, fast striker and we’ll just look to shut that down. We’re so solid in the back row.”

Section 6AA

Willmar 9, Rockford/HLWW 0

R/HLWW (0-14-1)............................ 0  0 — 0
Willmar (14-2-1).............................. 0  9 — 9

FIRST HALF – no scoring
SECOND HALF – (1) W: Idd Ali 45 minute (Miguel Altamirano Toruno)… (2) W: Ali 47th minute (unassisted) … (3) W: Ali 58th minute (unassisted) … (4) W: Hassan Mohamud 61st minute (Kadar Muhumed) … (5) W: Ivan Mares-Ciriaco 62nd minute (Saul Bustos) … (6) W: Nathan Marthaler 65th minute (Isaac Zelaya Velasquez) … (7) W: Andrew Ziebarth 72nd minute (Mares-Ciriaco) … (8) W: Muhumed 76th minute (unassisted) … (9) W: Hermis Alvarado Reyes 80th minute (unassisted)
SHOTS ON GOAL – R/HLWW: 0. Willmar: 26
GOALIE SAVES – R/HLWW: Peter Thomas, 17 saves … Willmar: Ziebarth, 0 saves

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Section 8A

Cathedral 4, CMCS 1

Joseph Torborg scored a pair of goals and Jack Stang and Blake Newiger got one each in St. Cloud Cathedral’s victory over Central Minnesota Christian at Whitney Park in St. Cloud.

The teams were scoreless at halftime.

Caleb Voogt scored CMCS’ goal.

Cathedral, the top seed in Section 8A-East, meets Fergus Falls for the section title at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Sauk Centre. Fergus Falls, the second seed in 8A-West, beat top-seeded Hillcrest Lutheran Academy of Fergus Falls 3-2.

CMCS, the second seed in 8A-East, finishes the season with a 6-8-1 record.

CMCS (6-8-1)........................... 0  1 — 1
Cathedral (16-1-0)................... 0  4 — 4

SHOTS ON GOAL – CMCS: 5. Cathedral: 10
GOALIE SAVES – CMCS: Josh Nelson, 6 saves … Cathedral: Noah Henderson, 4 saves

More by Michael Lyne:
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Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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