It came down to the penalty kicks.
And why wouldn’t it?
It was the third meeting of the season between No. 4 Brainerd and No. 5 Sartell Thursday, Oct. 14, at Adamson Field. The prior two ended in ties. So when they faced off in the Section 8-3A Quarterfinals it was no surprise that it was tied again after 100 minutes of play including two extra frame periods.
“I kind of had a gut feeling that it was going to go into a shootout,” Warriors head coach Tom Grausam said. “That is the rivalry this year.”
Sartell goalie Billy Vogt saved Andrew Norlock’s PK in the second sudden death PK shootout round to win the match for Sartell 4-3 to advance to the Section 8-3A Semifinals.
Andrew Gritman scored the game-winning PK for the Sabres prior to Norlock’s miss.
“We are just trying to catch our breath,” Sartell head coach Matt Hager said after the game. “Because we knew coming in that it was going to be a tight, close game.”
The teams were tied 4-4 after the first five PKs, which sent it to a sudden death shootout. The Warriors had the upper hand after goalie Kalvin Stengrim saved Sartell’s Mitiku Nies’ PK which was Sartell’s second attempt.
Vogt answered with a save of Joe Otto’s PK which would have put the Warriors up 4-3.
Marcus Congdon scored the Sabres’ fifth PK which meant Sean Engelstad needed to make his PK to put the match into sudden death PKs, which he did.
“We were pretty confident,” Hager said. “We practice those things and our keeper has made some big saves on PKs in the past, so we knew he was capable of getting a good save on.”
The Sabres jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half on the Warriors. Kyle Fisher scored his first of two goals and two minutes later Nies scored, assisted by Fisher, to put the Sabres up 2-0.
“It was big for our confidence,” Hager said of the 2-0 lead. “It helped them to know that we can do this.”
Brainerd came roaring back however as Ryan Westerberg scored two first-half goals to tie it at half.
Westerberg’s first goal came off a corner and was assisted by Adam Klecker. The second came off a Logan Carlson corner that found the head of Westerberg.
“After that first goal you could see our confidence rise and everything,” Grausam said. “It really boosted us more and then when we tied it, it gave us even more confidence.”
Brainerd took the lead for the first time with 15 minutes left when Klecker scored off another Carlson corner.
“We’ve been working on a lot of those in practice,” Carlson said. “We look at who is marking who when they set it up, and they call it out who they want to put it on and I just do my best to get it there.”
Fisher scored his second goal just three minutes later to tie it back up.
“We get up 2-0. They come back to tie. They take the lead. We come back to tie. We go to a PK shootout and we go to a sudden death PK shootout. It was just nerve-wrecking,” Hager said.
Shots were even at 11 with Stengrim and Vogt each netting eight saves a piece.
The Warriors finish 7-6-4 while Sartell will face Moorhead in the Section 8-3A Semifinals Tuesday, Oct. 19.
“I’m very proud of them,” Grausam said. “Not too many teams can say they came back from a 2-0 deficit in sections. Most teams would probably give up, but our team never gave up. They fought back and tied it 2-2 and took the lead 3-2. It just wasn’t in our hands to advance this year.”
Sartell 2 1 0 0 6 — 4
Brainerd 2 1 0 0 5 — 3
First half: Sar-Kyle Fisher (Carter Muehring) 26:36; Sar-Mitiku Nies (Kyle Fisher) 23:55; Brd-Ryan Westerberg (Adam Klecker) 20:11; Brd-Ryan Westerberg (Logan Carlson) 7:54
Second half: Brd-Adam Klecker (Logan Carlson) 15:06; Sar-Kyle Fisher 11:59
Shots on goal: Brd 11, Sar 11
Goalkeepers: Brd-Kalvin Stengrim (8 saves); Sar-Billy Vogt (8 saves)
Sartell 4, Warriors 3 (PKs)
Key: Sartell gets the best of Brainerd in PKs to advance in Section 8-3A
Overall: Brd 7-6-4, Sar 7-6-4.
Next: Sartell at Moorhead 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.