Packers lose final home game of regular season
There was almost another tie for the Austin Packers against a Mankato team in Tuesday night's boys soccer game at Hass Stadium.
Scoring in the second half, the Austin boys erased an early deficit and were tied 1-1 with Mankato West at the end of regulation. Neither team scored in the initial five minutes of overtime.
Time ticked away in the second five-minute session of overtime and it looked like a tie.
Then, the West Scarlets (8-7-1) got an open look from the side of the Packers net and Timothy Bearg lofted a shot over over goalie Jesus Alejo for the decisive goal in a 2-1 win.
"We had our chances to score a few more goals and didn't make it happen," Austin coach Jens Levisen said. "In the first half, we started slow and they took the lead."
The only goal of the first half came inside the opening 10 minutes of the game. William Leitch scored for West at the eight-minute mark. This lead for the visitors would last through halftime.
Playing their final home game of the regular season, the Packers struggled to get the offense untracked in the first half. There were scoring opportunities throughout the game, but the deficit remained on the scoreboard until the second half.
During the intermission, the parents of the seniors were introduced along with the players and the mothers were given flowers. This ceremony seemed to inspire the Austin boys and they came out with more fire on the field in the second half.
"Our offense had more energy in the second half and we put pressure on their goalie," the coach said. "After that poor first half, we needed a lift and the early goal got us back in the game."
Right from the start of the second half, the Packers picked up the tempo and attacked the West zone. The West goalkeeper made a number of saves, but Austin kept up the pressure and it paid off.
Jake Hagen-Erickson got a clean look and made it count for the Packers. He put the ball in the corner of the net inside the first 10 minutes of the second half and tied the score.
The Austin goal came with 30:11 left in the second half. Despite getting a series of close looks over the remaining minutes of regulation, the Packers couldn't find the net for the go-ahead goal.
Unlike last week against Mankato East, the Austin defense couldn't keep it tied in overtime. The loss dropped the Packers to a 3-3-2 record in the Big Nine Conference.
"We had some point-blank shots in the second half and they just didn't go in," Levisen said. "We need to learn from this loss and finish better in these close games."
Austin (7-5-2 overall) has three more games this week to finish up the regular season and they're all on the road. The final stretch into the section playoffs starts on Thursday night at Albert Lea.