Maple Grove went 1-1-1 in last week’s boys’ soccer action.
The Crimson defeated the Irondale Knights 3-1 in the rain Sept. 27 at home. Maple Grove got off to a slow start against an Irondale team that hadn’t lost in six straight games. However, eleven minutes in, senior captain Juan Mantilla spiraled a corner kick in front of the Knight goal to fellow senior Karpeh Zoogley, who headed the ball into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Knights weathered a barrage of shots by senior captain Ryan DeBois midway through the half before turning the tide against the Crimson. Irondale closed out the first half with pressure in the Crimson end, but junior defender Dakota Weigel and senior goalie Peter Shpak cleared the Knights attempts to end the half with the Crimson up 1-0.
Out of the break, both teams traded shots on goal, but in 46th minute of the game, a Crimson foul set up a free kick from Irondale senior Connor Mann, who sent a rocket shot from 25 yards out off the top cross bar and into the goal to tie the game.
Both teams turned up the pressure after the Irondale goal with each team trading shots in a seesaw battle. The Knights brought heavy pressure in the 67th minute, culminating in multiple saves by Shpak. The Crimson finally broke the pressure and turned up the field. DeBois worked the ball up the outside before centering the ball to Cameron Barbour, who passed the ball into the net for the 2-1 lead.
Maple Grove kept up the pressure and iced the game in the final three minutes of the contest when Jeff Clune dished off to a wide open Riley Gill, who placed the ball into the back of the net for the 3-1 win.
“Irondale came in really prepared and playing well, but I think that’s the first game that we finished well, played a complete second half,” Maple Grove coach Chad Morse said.
Maple Grove 2, Park Center 2
The Crimson served up a 2-2 tie to the sixth-ranked Park Center Pirates Sept. 29 at Crimson Stadium. Park Center is fast and skilled, and opened up a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute of the game with an arching shot into the upper left corner of the goal. The Pirate’s Fuad Tahir lofted beautiful and dangerous free kicks in front of the Crimson goal all night long, but diving saves by Shpak, clearing shots by Jack Dorholt, and steals by Caleb Robinson kept Maple Grove in the game.
With six minutes left in the first half, the Pirates took a 2-0 lead on a point blank shot.
The Crimson opened the second half slowly but showed some fight as the game progressed, getting on the board six minutes into the second half when senior Charlie Schmid headed a ball from Mantilla to close the gap to 1-2.
Intensity was high as the game wound down. Maple Grove put up big pressure keeping the ball in the Park Center end for nearly the entire second half. With 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Mantilla’s corner kick was headed out to Gill, who blooped a shot that dropped behind the Pirate goalie. DeBois created a human shield to keep the Park Center defenders away from the ball so it could bounce into the goal to tie the game 2-2 with 40 seconds remaining in regulation.
“It was a crazy game,” Morse said. “We were a little in awe early on. I think it put us in a bad hole. However, this one just makes the kids believe that they can take on any one. Good team effort. It’s just about believing; digging in.”
Maple Grove 1, Andover 2
Maple Grove came up short against the eighth-ranked Huskies Oct. 1 in Andover.
Maple Grove appeared to continue their positive momentum in Andover when Clune received a pass from DeBois in the middle of the box, turned, beat a defender and drilled a shot home to put the Crimson up 1-0 midway through the first half.
Andover evened the score in the first five minutes of the second half when Alex Gutenberg kicked a soft roller toward the Crimson goal, which was deflected by a Crimson defender just before the net minder could scoop it up. Shpak tried to turn and make the diving save, but the ball just crossed the goal line to tie the game.
Andover controlled much of the second half. Junior Brodie Carron and the rest of the Crimson defense kept the score even, but Andover kept knocking on the door with shots of the post, and saves by goalie Shpak. The Huskies finally capitalized on a Crimson defensive breakdown when Andover’s Alex Gutenberg was left wide open on a Husky corner kick that deflected out to Gutenberg, who drilled a shot over Shpak for the 2-1 lead, which was enough to close out the game.
The Crimson conclude the regular season with home games Oct. 6 against Anoka and Breck on Oct. 8.