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Late goal in OT lifts Tigers

Albert Lea's Nate Nelson and Mankato East's Brady DesLauriers battle to head the ball Tuesday at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea’s Nate Nelson and Mankato East’s Brady DesLauriers battle to head the ball Tuesday at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Only one goal was required to lift the Tigers to their first Big Nine Conference win of the season.

With 1:14 left in the second five-minute half of overtime, sophomore Noah Karge scored on a pass from Colton Mowers, and the Albert Lea boys’ soccer team edged Mankato East 1-0 Tuesday at Jim Gustafson Field.

“Karge had been running hard every play,” said Tigers coach Bob Furland. “It goes to show that it pays off to keep working hard.”

When Mowers, who is also a sprinter on Albert Lea’s track and field team, dribbled into the box, the Cougars’ goalie was drawn out to challenge him.

“I thought that maybe I could use my speed and beat (the goalie) to the ball,” Mowers said. “Somehow, it popped out to Karge, and that’s all we needed to win the game.”

Karge scored on a header.

“I didn’t really expect the ball to come out of there,” Karge said. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

In the first half, both teams had close calls at the net. The Tigers had three shots on goal, and the Cougars had two.

With 12:35 before halftime, Albert Lea goalie Foster Otten made a save when the ball deflected off the right goalpost. About five minutes later, the Tigers’ Spencer Indrelie scored, but he was offside, which nullified the goal.

In the second half, both teams had more shots on goal: Albert Lea had five, and Mankato East, six. However, neither squad was able to find the net.

Otten led the Tigers’ defense with nine saves.

“He had a few big saves that kept us in the game.” Furland said.

So far this season, the Tigers (2-0-1, 1-0 Big Nine) are allowing fewer than one goal per game. After a 1-1 overtime tie against Kasson-Mantorville to start the season, Albert Lea posted a 1-0 win Saturday over Byron before the shutout against Mankato East.

“Our defense has just been stellar,” Furland said. “We have six guys who play defense, and all of them were a huge part of this game. There’s no drop-off when we go to the bench.”

Next, Albert Lea will play next Tuesday at Rochester Mayo (1-0-1, 0-0 Big Nine Conference). The Spartans tied Lakeville North in their season opener and beat Lakeville South 3-1 on Tuesday. Last year, Mayo defeated Albert Lea 3-0. The Tigers tied the Spartans 2-2 in 2013.

Furland said it is encouraging to see his team play together.

“When we came into the season, we talked about team all the time,” he said. “You could definitely see it was teamwork by everybody. Even on the bench we were supporting each other. That’s all you want to see as a coach.”