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Boys soccer: Tigers are one game from state

Farmington’s Blake Smith heads up the sideline with the ball during last Thursday’s Section 1AA tournament win over Rochester John Marshall. The Tigers added a win over Lakeville North Saturday to advance to the section finals for the first time ever.

Last Thursday the Farmington boys soccer team won its first-ever section tournament game.

Another victory on the road at Lakeville North on Saturday put the Tigers within a game of their first state tournament berth.

All-stater Jared Wolt scored his 14th goal of the season on a crossing pass from Blake Smith with three minutes left in the first half and the goal stood in a 1-0 shutout of the Panthers.

“Not a flawless performance, but a hard-fought win. We knew going into this one that it would be a good game,” said head coach Julian Buss, whose team lost to North 1-0 in overtime in late August. “Jared led the offense and created some great scoring opportunities. He took some mean shots and wound up with the game-winner. It was not an easy feat as he is double and triple teamed when he gets the ball.”

The Tigers (8-4-5) advanced to the Section 1AA finals Tuesday against an Owatonna team that defeated them 3-0 in early September.

“We look forward to a rematch at Owatonna. We feel as though we are a different team now. We are learning how to convert our opportunities into goals,” Buss said. “We are ready to generate some offense, and we have confidence in our defense and midfielders to shut Owatonna down.”

Buss is also hoping for another solid performance from keeper Jake Agnew, who had 21 saves in the win over North. It was his seventh shutout of the season.

Agnew registered 16 saves in the Tigers’ 4-1 victory over Rochester John Marshall in the first round of the tournament last Thursday at Tiger Stadium. The Rockets led 1-0 for over 20 minutes during the first half, but Robin DeCastro headed in a Caleb Gochenour corner kick with 5:31 left in the first half to tie the score.

The Tigers turned it on in the second half, scoring three goals in a 15-minute span to pull away. Jeff Gutierrez, Jack Fogarty and Wolt each found the net and Smith, Ryan Parco and Jon Zakoski provided assists.

“The team got refocused at the half and came out ready,” Buss said. “The second half was ours. We didn’t necessarily have more scoring opportunities than normal, but what we did is follow up shots and take advantage of second opportunities in front of the net. Deflections, headers and quick touches won the game for us.”