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Tigers prepare for Cougars

Albert Lea’s Nate Nelson and Mankato West’s Luke Ambrose attempt a header on Sept. 29 at Jim Gustafson Field. - Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea’s Nate Nelson and Mankato West’s Luke Ambrose attempt a header on Sept. 29 at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Boys’ soccer team to face Mankato East in Section 2A semifinals

The Tigers are hoping for a repeat when they face the Cougars once again this season — this time in the Section 2A semifinals.

The No. 5 seed-Albert Lea boys’ soccer team, (8-5-4, 5-3-3 Big Nine), will host No. 8 seed-Mankato East, (5-12-1, 2-8-1 Big Nine), at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Jim Gustafson Field. When Albert Lea played Mankato East earlier in the regular season on Sept. 1, Albert Lea won 1-0 in overtime.

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

Albert Lea has won three of its last eight games against Mankato East.

Albert Lea coach Bob Furland said that, while Mankato East has suffered some injuries over the course of the season, he believes the team is stronger than ever now and will make for an extremely worthy opponent.

Colton Mowers, third from left, of Albert Lea celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal Sept. 29 against Mankato West at Jim Gustafson Field. - Micah Bader

Colton Mowers, third from left, of Albert Lea celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal Sept. 29 against Mankato West at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

“Both teams have changed so much since that point,” he said, referring to the Sept. 1 game. “This is going to be a great, evenly-matched game again.”

The Tigers were ranked 18th in Minnesota-Scores.net’s Quality Results Formula as of Monday night, and the Cougars were ranked 55th.

Mankato East upset heavily-favored No. 1 seed-Mankato West, (9-6-2, 6-3-2 Big Nine), on Oct. 15 with a 1-0 win to eliminate the Scarlets from postseason play.

Furland said the change in expected opponent doesn’t change the Tigers’ strategy and preparation going into Wednesday’s game.

“It’s the same game plan, same routine,” he said.

He did note, however, that Mankato West being defeated made it so that Albert Lea would have home-field advantage for Wednesday’s game.

“That’s huge for us, and makes our seniors happy,” Furland said. “We’re really excited to have a home game in the playoffs.”

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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