It wasn’t pretty, but the Brainerd Warriors advanced.
Cruz Megazzini and Jackson Bluth each scored second-half goals in the No. 3 seed Warriors 2-1 win over the No. 6 Osseo Orioles in the Section 8-2A quarterfinals Friday, Oct. 16.
Despite advancing, Warriors head coach Tom Grausam wasn’t entirely pleased with his team’s performance.
“We really only played 15-20 minutes of good ball and it wasn’t our day,” Grausam said. “We got lucky in this game. Osseo came to play and they played a really good game and we were not on our game.”
The Warriors did have their chances to put more goals on the board. Adam Klecker had a shot go off the post in the first half. Isaiah Peterson headed one off the crossbar in the second half.
After being scoreless through the first 60 minutes of play, Bluth scored off a rebound shot by Logan Carlson.
“We started slow,” Captain Cooper Cousino said. “We were not really happy with our performance. We can play a lot better than that, but we did pass the ball pretty well.”
The score broke the tie and gave the Warriors a much needed lead.
Minutes later, Megazzini dribbled up and scored to make it 2-0 Warriors with 13:05 remaining.
“We were able to play as a team and all work together,” Megazzini said. “We were able to find the corners a few times and got some good set pieces and made them go. It wasn’t easy.”
Osseo made it closer with a goal at the 2:15 mark, but it was too little too late for the Orioles.
Brandon Niefert notched two saves in goal and they were major saves. One came in the second half with the score still tied.
“I am just trying to keep the shutout every game,” Niefert said. “Communication is everything. I am hoarse after every single game because I am yelling at the top of my lungs.”
Defensively, the Warriors limited Osseo to just three shots.
“We really pride ourselves on defense,” Cousino said. “The two in the middle really shut it down for us, so then us back three are really good at just keeping them locked down. Brandon has been phenomenal for us all season. He’s a very good goalie.”
Overall, Grausam and the Warrior players know their energy needs to be better when they travel to play Moorhead in the semifinals Tuesday, Oct. 22.
“We have to start early,” Grausam said. “We have to have the energy. We have to start playing a simple, smart game. Today, I don’t know if they are tired or looking past the first round at Moorhead, but in sections everyone has a 0-0 record to start with. Tonight, we just played horrible.”
When asked about whether last year’s loss in the Section 8-2A finals creeps in his head, Megazzini said “not at all.”
“This is a new year and we are going to finish it,” he said.
Osseo 0 1 — 1
Brainerd 0 2 — 2
Second half: Brd-Jackson Bluth (Logan Carlson) 18:41, Brd-Cruz Megazzini 13:05, O-Josiah Wesseh 2:15
Shots on goal: Brd 9, O 3
Goalkeepers: Brd-Brandon Niefert (2 saves); O-Kalan McIlveen (7 saves)
Warriors 2, Osseo 1
Key: Brainerd scored two second half goals to propel them into the next round.
Overall: Brd 9-0-2, O 2-8-2.
Next: Brainerd at Moorhead 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.