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Albert Lea advances past Waseca

Albert Lea's Noah Karge saves the ball as he is defended by Waseca's Alex Gallegos Thursday in the Section 2A quarterfinals at Waseca. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea’s Noah Karge saves the ball as he is defended by Waseca’s Alex Gallegos Thursday in the Section 2A quarterfinals at Waseca. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

WASECA — For the eighth consecutive season, the Albert Lea boys’ soccer team won its postseason opener.

Alejandro Garcia’s goal with 4:45 left in the first 10-minute half of overtime extended the Tigers’ streak with a 1-0 victory Thursday in the Section 2A quarterfinals at Waseca.

“The ball deflected off a defender and was just sitting there, so I shot it in the top corner,” Garcia said. “We dominated the whole game, but we just had to get the ball in. We finally did that at the end. I’m happy with our team.”

Albert Lea (8-5-4, 5-3-3 Big Nine) had a 15-7 advantage in shots on goal and a 4-2 edge in corner kicks.

Foster Otten led the Tigers between the posts with seven saves.

“Our defense played stellar again,” said Albert Lea coach Bob Furland. “They ended up having six shots (on goal) in the first half, and I think (the defenders) blocked even more than that.”

To stay on the offensive, the Tigers’ gameplan was to contain Waseca’s Gabriel Arreguin and Hugo Castaneda.

“Once again our (midfielders) sealed up,” Furland said. “They have two fantastic players, and we hung with them all day. That was awesome to see.”

Both the Tigers, the No. 5 seed, and the Bluejays (10-5-1, 6-3-1 Big South), the No. 4 seed, had first-round tournament byes. Even though Albert Lea had the lower seed, the Tigers’ win being an upset was debatable, as Albert Lea entered the game with a No. 27 Quality Results Formula ranking from Minnesota-Scores.net, while Waseca was No. 31.

Albert Lea advanced to the semifinals, where the Tigers will host Mankato East (5-12-1, 2-8-1 Big Nine) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Jim Gustafson Field.

The Cougars, the No. 8 seed, are coming off a 1-0 upset Thursday over No. 1-seed Mankato West (9-6-2, 6-3-2 Big Nine). The Scarlets entered the game with a No. 7 QRF ranking, while Mankato East was No. 72.