The rain made for a sloppy game, but the Brainerd Warriors pulled out a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Bison in the Section 8-2A quarterfinals Thursday, Oct. 10, at Don Adamson Field.
The No. 1 seeded Warriors showed why they were the top seed and scored in the second minute. Senior forward Jack Thorkelson scored on a broken play from a free kick to put the Warriors ahead.
“It set the tone for the rest of the game,” Thorkelson said of this opening goal. “Getting that one-goal lead put a little pressure off our shoulders and gave us time to get composed and play our game.”
The Bison put the pressure back on the Warriors and kept them on their toes for the rest of the first half. They created multiple chances and kept the Warriors’ defenders honest.
“We were playing back on our heels and playing sloppy,” Warrior coach Tom Grausam said.
Grausam did not like the way his team played in the first half and told them at halftime to pick up the intensity.
“We came out slow,” Grausam said. “Maybe a week off kind of hurt us for the first 40, but in the second half we picked up our game and started playing how we were supposed to play.
“We were a little overconfident. I think the first two minutes we were like ‘wow, we scored in the first two minutes. It’s going to be an easy game.’ Well, Buffalo came to play and they showed us maybe they shouldn’t have been a No. 8 seed.”
The Warriors responded as Max Lelwica scored seven minutes into the second half.
Nick Whiteman attempted a corner kick and it deflected off the head of Eli Roberts unto the foot of Lelwica who scored a rare goal.
“It showed how we came out and pressured hard in the second half,” Lelwica said. “For me, I never really score that much. I didn’t even know what really happened. It bounced off my leg and I just turned around and shot it at the goal and it went in.”
Thorkelson added his second goal to give the Warriors a commanding 3-0 lead.
Buffalo tacked on a goal with 16 minutes left to deny goalie Jude Hitlner a clean sheet. The Bison only managed two shots on goal off the Warriors’ defense. The Warriors produced seven shots on goal.
The Warriors know they will have to play better Saturday, Oct. 12, against No. 4 seeded Elk River if they hope to move on to the Section 8-2A finals.
“We have a target on our back,” Grausam said. “Since we are the No. 1 seed. We have to play 80 minutes in order for us to move on. If we play like we did in the first half, our season will be done Saturday.”
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Buffalo 0 1 -- 1
Brainerd 1 2 -- 3
First half: Brd-Jack Thorkelson 38:38
Second half: Brd-Max Lelwica (Eli Roberts, Nick Whiteman) 33:17, Brd-Thorkelson 22:46, Buf-Darren Hayes 16:23
Shots on goal: Brd 7, Buf 2
Goalkeepers: Brd-Jude Hitlner (1 save); Buf-Wyatt Hiers (4 saves)
Warriors 3, Buffalo 1
Key: Warriors early goal set the tone as they cruised to a 3-1 win.
Overall: Brd 11-1-2
Next: hosts No. 4 seed Elk River noon Saturday, Oct. 12.