The Brainerd Warriors ended their season on their home turf, falling a goal short of the state tournament as Maple Grove beat them 2-1 in the Section 8-2A final Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Don Adamson Field.
Brainerd grabbed the lead early in the first half thanks to a Nick Whiteman penalty kick. Even though the Warriors held a lead, Maple Grove created more chances.
Maple Grove managed 11 shots on goal and Brainerd got off only three shots.
Later in the first half, Whiteman attempted a free kick, and it found the back of the net. The Warriors thought they had a 2-0 lead, but the referee waved off the goal since no one else touched the ball as it went in the net.
“We did alright it just did not work out,” Whiteman said.
Regardless, Warriors head coach Tom Grausam was pleased with how well his team played in the first half.
“They stuck to our game plan and we played at the top of our game tonight,” Grausam said.
The first Crimson goal came early in the second half. Chris Frantz attempted a corner kick and it landed in the perfect spot for Caleb Robinson’s foot to tie the game.
Senior goalie Jude Hiltner notched nine saves for the Warriors. However, on a broken play, Maple Grove attacker Maxwell Bartee scored and gave the Crimson a 2-1 lead with 6:25 remaining.
The Warriors put pressure on Maple Grove toward the end. A couple of chances fell flat and time expired before they could get the equalizing goal.
“They just got the breaks,” Grausam said of Maple Grove. “Our guys were motivated, we played well in both halves, but the breaks did not come our way in that second half.”
Tempers flared and Grausam was assessed a red card after time expired.
For senior Jack Thorkelson, he will remember the bond he had with his teammates.
“Knowing we had the best team to come here through Brainerd is really humbling,” Thorkelson said. “Just holding to that as long as we can.”
Last year’s team got the school record for wins with 13, and while this team fell one win short, the 12-2-2 record is the program’s best winning percentage. Also, it was the first time Brainerd played in a section final.
This year’s team was a special group for Grausam.
“How hard they work on and off the field they study the game and are a close knit family,” Grausam said. “When you have a close knit family, you win and in my book they are champions and that’s all that matters.”
This is the third year in a row the Warriors have lost to Maple Grove in the section tournament. The loss stings more as Brainerd was the No. 1 seed and had the home field advantage.
“The way we played as a team we played excellent together,” Hiltner said. “The records we broke were incredible. I really enjoyed the team and how well we played together.”
For more photos of Section 8-2A final against Maple Grove go to https://bit.ly/2MjP8MJ.
Maple Grove 0 2 -- 2
Brainerd 1 0 -- 1
First half: Brd-Nick Whiteman 22:45 PK
Second half: MG-Caleb Robinson (Chris Frantz) 26:13, MG-Maxwell Bartee 6:25
Shots on goal: Brd 3, MG 11
Goalkeepers: Brd-Jude Hiltner (9 saves); MG-Tyler Wernz (2 saves)
Maple Grove 2, Warriors 1
Key: Maple Grove’s two goals in the second denied the Warriors a spot in the state tournament
Overall: Brd 12-2-2, MG 13-3-3