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Boys Soccer: Brainerd attains milestone with section quarterfinal victory

With a 2-0 victory In the quarterfinals of the Section 8-2A tournament, the Brainerd Warriors registered a milestone Thursday at Adamson Field. They hope to achieve another benchmark in Saturday's semifinals at top-seeded and Class 2A's fifth-ran...

Brainerd’s Gus Robinson boots the ball against St. Michael-Albertville during the Section 8-2A quarterfinal game Thursday at Adamson Field. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video
Brainerd’s Gus Robinson boots the ball against St. Michael-Albertville during the Section 8-2A quarterfinal game Thursday at Adamson Field. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video

 

With a 2-0 victory In the quarterfinals of the Section 8-2A tournament, the Brainerd Warriors registered a milestone Thursday at Adamson Field.

They hope to achieve another benchmark in Saturday's semifinals at top-seeded and Class 2A's fifth-ranked Maple Grove. The Clemson eliminated No. 8 Rogers 10-1 Thursday.

Fourth-seeded Brainerd's win over the No. 5 St. Michael-Albertville Knights was only the second playoff victory in program history (2008 was the first). In addition, it was also only Brainerd's second home playoff game (2010 was the other).

"It feels really good to get that off the Brainerd Warriors' backs," head coach Tom Grausam said of the second playoff win. "I think we're making a name for ourselves. I think people are looking at us seriously as a soccer town now.

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Warriors 2, StMA 0

  • The key: Tim Whiteman and Mason Malone scored goals and keeper Noah Sundberg posted a clean sheet
  • Overall: Brd 8-6-3, StMA finishes 7-7-1
  • Next: Section 8-2A semifinals: No. 4 Brainerd vs. No. 1 Maple Grove/No. 8 Rogers winner at high seed Saturday TBA.

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"It's good to get this one down. Now, you know what? We tied history. Now we're going to try to make history on Saturday (in the semifinals)."

Nick Whiteman and Mason Malone provided the goals Thursday and Brainerd's defense and keeper Noah Sundberg denied the Knights' offense.

"That was one of our goals, to be in the top four in the section so we could get a home playoff game," Whiteman said, "and we got that. We got the win. It means a lot for us."

Malone concurred.

"This is awesome," Malone said. "We have a fantastic group of guys here. All of them just work 100 percent."

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Following a scoreless first half, during which they managed just one shot on net but kicked several balls over or wide of the net, the Warriors tallied twice in the first 10-plus minutes of the second half.

The Knights committed a foul in the 18-yard box, giving Brainerd a penalty kick at 3:09. Whiteman took the PK, and his shot deflected in off Knights keeper Brad Madore.

"We practiced them every day for the past two weeks," Whiteman said of PKs, "so I was just lining it up like I always do. The goalie guessed the right way because I shot against him when we played them last time (Sept. 16). But I hit it hard enough to get it past him so it was a good goal." Whiteman added that Madore got piece of the ball, "but it goes in. It counts the same."

A little more than seven minutes later, Malone supplied an insurance goal.

"They had a goal kick and the goalie kicked it short," Malone said. "I cut off the ball. (Wednesday) in practice I was shooting from that same spot every time, the right side, the right side of the net. I just hit it perfect."

Brainerd's Noah Ebinger almost made it 3-0 with about six minutes remaining when he deflected the rebound of Nick Whiteman's laser shot off the left post. In the first half, the Warriors' Isaac Foster hit the crossbar with about two minutes to go.

Brainerd generated six shots in the second half to the Knights' one.

"The boys played really well," Grausam said. "With this wind, I was really worried that they were going to be able to play it. Our defense held up, our midfielders controlled the game.

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"The second half was a whole different ballgame. When we had the wind, we were able to kick the ball on the ground, make those passes and pressure, pressure. I think we spent over half the time in the second half in their end pressuring."

In the first half, the Knights kicked four of their shots.

"They switched things up in the second half," Grausam said. "They put their No. 12 (Alex Krumenauer) up on top and we shut him down. He had speed, good foot control. That was their go-to guy.

"It was a team effort today. Everybody passed the ball well. It wasn't just one person. That's the way it's been the whole season. We've had nine different scorers, nine different people assisting in games. That's what you need to be a solid team."

 

St. Michael 0 0-0

Brainerd 0 2-2

Second half: B-Tim Whiteman 3:09; B-Mason Malone 10:08

Shots on goal: StMA 4-1--5, Brd 1-6--7

Goalkeepers: StMA-Brad Madore (5 saves); Brd-Noah Sundberg (5 saves)

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