Boys soccer: Tigers show signs of progress
The Farmington boys soccer program experienced two signs of its own progress in two very different ways last week.
First, the Tigers finished in a three-way tie for fourth in the eight-team Missota Conference with a record of 3-4 a year after going 1-5 in the league. They did that by scoring back-to-back victories over Chaska and New Prague last Tuesday and Thursday.
Second, the Tigers took to the Tiger Stadium turf one last time Saturday for a rain makeup against defending Class 2A state champion Apple Valley and played to a halftime score of 1-0. The top-ranked Eagles went on to break Stillwater's 13-year-old state record with their 41st consecutive win by a score of 5-0, but a small victory went to the Tigers, who went toe-to-toe with the senior-laden Eagles for 40 minutes and ended the regular season with six wins.
"At halftime I was very proud of our boys. I told them to take a moment to realize how far the Farmington program has come," second-year coach Julian Buss said. "We played a great first half in one of the best stadiums in the state against the best team in the state and it was a one-goal game.... What a great way to set some future expectations for our underclassmen."
The Tigers were given the No. 7 seed in Section 1AA and will take on second-seeded Lakeville North (6-5-5) in tonight's 7 p.m. playoff opener at North.
The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 first-half lead, then had to rely on goalkeeper Chad Stivers to preserve a one-goal lead over the final nine minutes of a 4-3 Senior Night win last Tuesday at Tiger Stadium.
"The second half was a battle," Buss said. "Chaska was determined to give us all they had. The MVP of the game definitely goes to Stivers. Chad has been playing outstanding in goal game after game for us. I don't want to think about what we would do without him back there for us. For a while there it seemed as though he had an outstanding save once every minute during the second half."
The Tigers took the lead just under 14 minutes into the first half when Mike Ricker controlled a loose ball and kicked it over the Chaska keeper's head for a goal.
Less than two minutes later, Justen Thelen punched a low ball past the Chaska keeper on a penalty kick to give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.
Thelen scored his second goal of the game 6:40 before halftime. Reid Wolf set up the score with a hustle play to keep the ball inbounds. He then found Jared Wolt, who fed it to Thelen for the goal.
Chaska scored to open the second half, but Cole Landwehr answered with a goal on a pass from Thelen to make it 4-1 at the 19:05 mark.
New Prague 0
The winless Trojans entered having scored just four goals in their second year as a varsity team, and the Tigers took care of business with a 3-0 win.
"An away game versus an opponent desperate for a win is always a difficult game. I would imagine that the seniors on their squad would not be letting up the entire game," Buss said. "That being said, our boys totally controlled the pace of the game. We ended up with a season-high 17 shots on goal."
The first shot to find the back of the net came from Tyler Petter-McCauley, who scored his first goal of the season on a pass from Thelen with 8:03 left before halftime.
Four minutes into the second half, Thelen scored a goal of his own on a pass from Brandon Scott. The Tigers netted their third goal with 10:41 remaining when Sam Leske found Elijah Kierski for a score.