U-17 boys survive district

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2003

It’s a trip to the state tournament for the Albert Lea Elks U-17 boys’ soccer team.

The squad finished the regular season with wins of 11-0 over Austin and 12-0 over Apple Valley, which was short a couple players, giving the locals a 15-2-2 record and the No. 3 seed in the district tournament.

Winona, whose only loss of the summer was to Albert Lea, received an automatic state tournament berth by finishing first in the regular season. Albert Lea had to survive district play, with any loss eliminating their chances for state.

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The first opponent was Apple Valley, which had all its players this time and was out for revenge. In a hard fought match, Albert Lea won 2-0 with Jacob Clark and Nate Lombardi scoring.

Sunday morning brought a little more rain and a few more bumps and bruises, but Albert Lea managed a 3-2 win over Owatonna which clinched a spot at state. Jeremy Jacobson scored two goals, and Justin McGinnis scored one.

The afternoon brought sun and heat and a battle for first with Bloomington.

With Joe Squires, Jake Clark and Jake Levisen especially battered and bruised, Albert Lea started slow, and Bloomington netted an early goal.

About five minutes later, a kick by Brady Plantage bounced off players from both teams before finding the net. Bloomington answered, taking the momentum and a 2-1 lead into halftime.

A penalty kick by McGinnis knotted the score and sent it into sudden-death overtime.

With Bloomington still dominating and Albert Lea hanging on, it didn’t look good. But, just two minutes into the overtime, McGinnis passed the ball to Jacobson, who had his shot rebound off a Bloomington player. Plantage was there to knock it home for the win.

Members of the team include defenders Andy Stapleton, squires, Dustin Boyer and Levisen; midfielders McGinnis, Conner Keyeski, Mitch Kortz, Kurtis Bohrnstedt and Plantage; and offensive players Lombardi, Clark and Jacobson. The goalies are Ethan Berg and Tyler Weise.

“Every player was key to us winning districts,” said coach Lowell Jacobson. “There was always someone we could count on to step to help out on the field when others were tired or hurt. Players seemed to take turns providing the spark we needed to keep going.”

The state tournament, which starts Saturday, is at the National Sports Center in Blaine. Each team plays four games, with the top two teams &045; based on a points system &045; playing for the championship.