By Jeff Arenz
MARSHALL - Despite a 2-1 non-conference loss to Willmar on Monday at the Schwan Regional Event Center, Marshall boys soccer coach Andrew Larson said the Tigers made strides of improvement.
Photo by Jeff Arenz
Marshall’s Bryce Johnson controls the ball as he is defended by Willmar’s Nick Courtney (11) and Nick McLouth (24) during a non-conference soccer match Monday at The Schwan Regional Event Center.
"Willmar is one of the best teams in our section," Larson said. "Even though we didn't get the win, we played very close to them. I am so proud of our players because they did very well."
The Cardinals (5-2-1 overall) took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute on a goal from Nick McLouth.
It stayed that way until the 47th minute, when the Tigers' Sam Duran took a shot that Willmar goalie Charlie Trochlil saved, but gave up a rebound. Duran didn't miss with the carom, burying the ball past Trochlil into the right corner of the net for a 1-1 tie.
"We were running down into the penalty box and Sebastian Landry took the ball away from the (Cardinals) defender," Duran said. "I just grabbed the ball from (Landry) and took a shot, but (Trochlil) blocked it. When the ball came back to me, I cleaned up the rebound."
Larson was pleased with Marshall's attack.
"We wanted to focus upon possessing the ball, getting passes together and having good runs. I thought we really did that well (Monday)," Larson said. "The last few games, we have been a little too patient with the ball. But we did a better job of taking shots more quickly and taking chances with the ball."
Duran agreed with the play of the Tigers.
"This is one of the best games we have played this season," Duran said. "We possessed the ball right. We passed it right. We sent in balls right. This was a big step for us."
The Tigers, who stand at 0-7-0 overall in 2013, compiled nine shots on-goal against Trochlil. The last three MHS defeats have been by a total of three goals compared to a 16-goal deficit during the Tigers' first four losses.
The match-winning goal occurred in the 70th minute. Cardinals midfielder Juan Contreras made a 20-yard run along the far sideline before unleashing a hard shot that went through traffic and eluded Marshall goalie Jackson Luther into the left corner of the net.
"Jackson is a freshman who has come a long way," Larson said of Luther. "He plays aggressively and that's what I like to see from our goalie. We can't ask any more of him, especially after making some good decisions."
Several times throughout the back-and-forth match, Luther came out of the net to stop Willmar attackers from getting off shots. The Cardinals generated 13 shots on-goal, 11 of which Luther saved.
Trochlil turned in the play of the match in the closing minutes. As Duran crashed the net by leaping into the Willmar goalie, Trochill jumped to make a save of a shot on-goal.
The Tigers, who tied Fairmont 0-0 after regulation play Saturday in the semifinal round of the Albert Lea Invitational, ended up falling 3-2 on penalty kicks. Marshall has a chance to avenge that defeat at 5:45 p.m. today, when the Cardinals visit The Schwan Regional Event Center for a South Central Conference match.