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Gallery: Panthers hold off Tigers

Colton Mowers of Albert Lea dribbles toward the goal Thursday at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Colton Mowers of Albert Lea dribbles toward the goal Thursday at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Following a defensive battle for 86 minutes and 51 seconds, the stalemate was broken.

With a goal by Grant Leet-Otley, Rochester Century took a 1-0 lead with 3:09 left in the second period of overtime.

The Albert Lea boys’ soccer team responded by threatening to tie the game, but their efforts fell short, and the Tigers lost 1-0 Thursday on Parents Night at Jim Gustafson Field.

“Even though we had that goal against us, we took it to them right away,” said Albert Lea coach Joe Squires. “We were dedicated to each other to get that ball in the net, and that showed all the way until the last whistle.”

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Tigers, who won their home tournament on Saturday with victories over Stewartville and Fairmont. Albert Lea (4-6-1 overall, 1-5-1 Big Nine Conference) tacked on another win by beating Faribault 2-0 Tuesday on the road. Of the Tigers’ six losses, four have been by two goals or fewer, and they haven’t lost by more than four goals.

Albert Lea kept its games close with a strong defense.

Against the Panthers, Squires said Lukas Severson and Chris Nelson worked hard to deny Century clear shots in the middle.

“We gave them the outside of the field, and we stayed tight in the middle,” he said. “We were trying hard not to let the through-balls pass through. Lukas and Chris stepped up huge. They’ve been communicating well with each other about which one is going to pressure and who’s going to drop back.

Foster Otten led Albert Lea in the goal with five saves, including a big grab at the end of regulation to force overtime.

The Tigers are 11th in the 12-team conference standings. Century (3-6-2 overall, 3-3-1 Big Nine Conference) is sixth.

Next, Albert Lea will play at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Mankato West (10-1 overall, 6-1 Big Nine Conference). The Scarlets are No. 1 in the conference standings, and their only blemish was a 1-0 loss Sept. 2 at Northfield.

After Mankato West, the Tigers finish the regular season against Owatonna, Austin and Winona.

Albert Lea is in Section 1A, which has 17 teams and five teams from the Big Nine Conference. According to Minnesota-Scores.net, the Tigers are No. 7 in the standings. However, the standings haven’t been updated with Albert Lea’s wins over Stewartville and Fairmont.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Sept. 18 post.