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Gallery: Strong start at sections

Tim Furland of Albert Lea attempts to center the ball Tuesday in the first round of the Section 1A tournament. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Tim Furland of Albert Lea attempts to center the ball Tuesday in the first round of the Section 1A tournament. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea takes down Stewartville, wins 3 of last 4 games

The Albert Lea boys’ soccer team made quick work of Stewartville in a 5-0 win on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinal round of the Section 1A tournament.

Jerry Halstead scored twice in the same game for the first time in his career. He scored the game’s first goal less than five minutes into regulation, and he found the net again with less than 30 seconds left in the first half.

“I couldn’t have done it without Carter (Dahl) or Ale (Alejandro Garcia) passing me the ball,” Halstead said. “It was a whole team effort, and it felt pretty good.”

Also scoring a goal for Albert Lea in the first half was Lay Wah, an eighth-grader with tremendous ball-handling skills.

“Knowing where to be, the team recognizing it and finding him on the outside — that was textbook,” said Albert Lea head coach Joe Squires.

At halftime, Albert Lea co-captain Preston Smith presented Tyler Vandenheuvel with a ball signed by the team. Vandenheuvel is out of the lineup with a torn meniscus. His rehab may continue this winter during basketball season, but he said he’s hoping to be healthy in time to take the court.

In the second half, the Tigers added two more goals. Francisco Victorino found the net shortly after a corner kick by Carter Dahl, and Dahl found the net himself five minutes later, to give Albert Lea a 5-0 lead.

“Frankie played some of the best minutes I’ve seen him play,” Squires said.

The Tigers are heating up at the right time. Albert Lea has won three of its last four games. In those games, the Tigers have given up a combined six goals.

“Hunter (Tuveson) and Preston have been consistently working well off each other on defense,” Squires said. “We have a lot of momentum built up.”

Next, the No. 7-seed Tigers will play No. 2-seed Austin at Hass Stadium in Austin.

Austin (6-6-5 overall) beat Cannon Falls 8-1 in the first round. The Packers haven’t lost in their last five outings, but three of those games have been ties. Games will go to penalty kicks to avoid ties in the postseason. In 16 regular season games, Austin didn’t win or lose a game by more than three goals, and the Packers went to overtime seven times.

The Tigers (7-9-1 overall) and Packers met earlier this season on Sept. 5 at Albert Lea, and Austin won 3-1 in overtime

“After last game, we want to establish ourselves and show that we’re a better team than what we displayed then,” Squires said.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Oct. 8 post.