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Dalton Kellen and the Park boys soccer team played No. 7-ranked Eastview to a 2-1 loss on the road last week. (Submitted photo by Steve Rooker)
Dalton Kellen and the Park boys soccer team played No. 7-ranked Eastview to a 2-1 loss on the road last week. (Submitted photo by Steve Rooker)

Park boys soccer: Wolfpack’s upset bid of No. 7 Eastview falls short

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sports Cottage Grove, 55016

Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The Park boys soccer team played “possibly their best game of the year,” according to head coach Jason Arnebeck, but couldn’t pull off an upset of Eastview, the seventh-ranked team in the state, on the road Saturday.

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Eastview, the defending Class AA state champions, went up 2-0 in the first half, but Park cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second half. Neither team would score again.

“We started off the match strong and established possession in their end for a good portion of the first 20 minutes,” Arnebeck said. “Our guys did a great job of keeping their composure and played hard enough to win the second half 1-0.”

Prior to crossing paths with Eastview, Park took on Suburban East Conference foe Mounds View on a rainy, windy Tuesday at Mounds View High School, and the Mustangs (5-4-1; 3-2 SEC) pulled off a 1-0 win.

“We played fairly strong except for a moment when two of our players miscommunicated, collided at the top of the 18 and the ball squirted behind both players and Mounds View cleaned up the mess,” Arnebeck said.

Two days later, White Bear Lake (5-5-2; 2-3 SEC) beat Park 2-0 in White Bear Lake.

“We started slow versus White Bear Lake and fell behind,” Arnebeck said. “Our team defending wasn’t as good as it needed to be. They played a much stronger second half and generated several scoring chances, but couldn’t get one in.”

The previous week saw Park (2-7-2; 0-3-2 SEC) go 0-1-2 with a 1-1 tie of rival Woodbury and a 0-0 draw with conference foe Forest Lake, along with a 4-2 loss to Wisconsin power Eau Claire Memorial.

Against Woodbury (6-2-1; 4-0-1 SEC), the first half was decisively in the Royals’ favor and Park goalie Nick Perry made several spectacular saves to keep the Wolfpack in the match. During the second half, however, the players made some nice defensive adjustments to limit the Royals’ attack and the Wolfpack was fortunate to draw a penalty kick off of a Woodbury player’s handball in the box off of a corner kick, allowing Peyton Boich to slam home the equalizer. Both teams had chances in the latter stage of the match and overtime, but neither team took advantage.

“They play a very fast style of soccer with combination play similar to East Ridge,” Arnebeck said. “The rewarding observation from the match is that we got stronger as the match wore on and stayed mentally tough after allowing the first goal.”

Thursday night, Forest Lake (2-9-1; 0-4-1 SEC) came to Wolfpack stadium and went home with a 0-0 tie.

“They have shown to be a tough side all season,” Arnebeck said. “Their record is deceiving in that they have played close matches with very good teams.”

Arnebeck said the Wolfpack’s young players — Boich, Brady Abrahamson and Jack Wagner — put their combination play on display and generated several chances, but unfortunately couldn’t find the net.

“Unlike other matches this fall, we struggled to get our shots on frame and as a result didn’t get a chance to test their keeper as much as we needed to,” Arnebeck said.

On Saturday, Park welcomed undefeated Eau Claire Memorial, the fifth-ranked team in Wisconsin, to Wolfpack Stadium.

By halftime, Park was down 3-0.

“They are a team that featured nine senior starters and seized control of the match almost immediately,” Arnebeck said. “The guys set a goal to come out and win the second half.”

In the second half, after some more aggressive play by Park’s attackers and backs, the Wolfpack was able to knock home its first goal of the game on a fantastic free kick by Ethan Berube that was redirected by Arik Kruzeski. Ten minutes later Park closed the gap to 2-1 when Joey Buytendorp dropped a beautiful pass to Yemi Adewola who crushed his first varsity goal past the Memorial keeper, who had no time to react. Later in the half Eau Claire scored their fourth goal to seal the win.

“I was extremely proud of the boys resolve and they showed the ability to compete at a high level,” Arnebeck said.

Cretin-Derham Hall (4-6-1; 1-4 SEC) was at Park on Tuesday after the Bulletin went to press. Next, the Wolfpack heads to Hastings (1-9; 0-5 SEC) to take on the Raiders on Thursday.

“We are excited about the kids improvement and hope to continue the momentum we established on Saturday,” Arnebeck said. “Our challenge moving forward is to continue to develop our combination play, press a bit harder defensively, and keep our intensity for all 80 minutes of the match.”

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