A late rally wasn’t enough for the Brainerd Warriors who fell 3-2 to the St. Michael-Albertville Knights Tuesday, Sept. 14, in a Section 8-3A matchup at Adamson Field.

Trailing 3-0 at half, Cruz Megazzini sparked life into the Warriors with a goal 24:34 left to make it 3-1.

The goal came off a Logan Carlson free kick that was placed perfectly for Megazzini to finish it.

With 3:23 left, the Warriors made it a one-goal game when a Kyle Duff pass set up Keaton Walkowiak for Brainerd’s second goal.

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“It tells a lot about them,” Warriors head coach Tom Grausam said of the comeback. “Their resiliency, you know down 3-0, a lot of teams would’ve quit and not give it their best effort in the second half, but this team took the advice of our coaching staff and they applied it and we got two goals. A lot of breaks in the six-(yard box) didn’t go our way.”

Brainerd managed two goals against the Knights without top goal-scorer Adam Klecker, who missed the game due to a red card in the game prior.

“Soccer is a team sport, so we miss one person and who is going to step up?” Grausam said. “That’s what we talk about and Adam is a valuable part of this team and did we miss him? Yes, we missed him, but he needs people behind him to get the ball to him, so it’s a team sport.”

The Knights struck first four minutes in when Maverick Kneefe scored to make it 1-0.

Brainerd’s defense held up for a good portion of the first half until a Jarod Timlin goal made it 2-0 Knights at the 13:33 mark of the first half.

Brainerd had a good chance to get on the board with a corner kick with 10 minutes left in the first half. Cullen Davis corralled the corner two feet from the net, but couldn’t finish.

The Knights added their third goal of the half when Fred Kpoto scored with 5:42 left in the half.

Kalvin Stengrim notched 12 saves for Brainerd, which was outshot 15-4.

“Kalvin was spectacular tonight,” Grausam said. “He kept us in the game. St. Michael, you know, is a good team. They had a lot of chances, but Kalvin kept his cool and he made some fantastic saves. Our defense they held their own.”

Stengrim said the key to his saves is being able to read the ball when it's coming in.

“It’s all about the foot position,” he said. “Whether it’s open, it’s probably going to my left, if it’s closed, it’s probably going to my right. I just can’t get screened.”

Brainerd moves to 2-2-2 with a second half it can build on the rest of the season.

“That second half we just had that good intensity that we needed to have in the first half,” Stengrim said. “Once we brought that up we had a 2-0 game in the second half.”

STMA 3 0 — 3
Brainerd 0 2 — 2

First half: STMA-Maverick Kneefe 36:08, STMA-Jarod Timlin 13:33, STMA-Fred Kpoto 5:42
Second half: Brd-Cruz Megaizzi (Logan Carlson) 24:34, Brd-Keaton Walkowiak (Kyle Duff) 3:23
Shots on goal: Brd 4, STMA 15
Goalkeepers: Brd-Kalvin Stengrim (12 saves); STMA-Evan Sherk (2 saves)

STMA 3, Warriors 2

Key: Three first-half goals enough for Knights against Warriors.

Overall: Brd 2-2-2, STMA 4-1-1.

Next: Brainerd at Willmar 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.