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No. 4 PIZM shuts out Lake City to grab second straight conference title

PIZM used its speed and on-field coaching from Brandt Konik to beat Lake City 2-0.

Lake City, Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa boys soccer
Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Brandt Konik takes a penalty shot for a goal against Lake City during a boys soccer game on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Lake City.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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LAKE CITY — When the soccer fans gathered at Lake City’s Bill Kieffer Field were silent, all that could be heard was Brandt Konik coaching on the field.

Konik, a senior captain for No. 4 Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa (6-0 HVL, 12-2 overall), let teammates know which Lake City players to watch on offense — thanks to film study before the game — and picked up his team when he felt the hustle was lacking.

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Maybe that coaching is in his blood. Konik is, after all, the son of PIZM coach Raf Konik.

“He’s very passionate about soccer,” Raf said after PIZM’s 2-0 win over Lake City (5-1 HVL, 9-5 overall). “I think some day he’ll be a coach. He likes to encourage others.”

That level of encouragement and communication helped lift PIZM to its second consecutive Hiawatha Valley League title Tuesday night — and only the second title in the 27 year history of PIZM soccer.

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“It doesn’t get old,” Raf said.

Lake City hosted Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa for a boys soccer game on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Lake City. PIZM defeated Lake City 2-0.

But PIZM hasn’t had time for the honor to lose its shine.

PIZM is coming off a season in which it not only became conference champion, but went on to grab the Section 2A title and finish third at state.

A big part of the team’s state tournament run was, of course, communication, but it was also due in large part to the speed PIZM plays with.

PIZM took note of the speed of the teams it competed against in the 2021 state tournament, especially that skill coming from Twin Cities teams.

“They are fast paced teams — very quick ball movement,” Raf said, “so we try to get in the same rhythm as we were last year in state when we kind of learned that.”

In the off-season, Raf and his team doubled down on playing faster.

And PIZM is noticeably faster.

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The hustle was evident from the first minute of the game. Konik and his teammates never gave up on a play, keeping the ball moving while laying on the ground.

PIZM scored twice in the first half, with goals from Konik and sophomore Lucas Sems, and never saw the net again.

But its pace of play never lapsed. PIZM continued to push the ball and attempted multiple shots at the goal.

The team stuck with its game plan and, with help from in-game analysis of the Tigers’ offensive strategy by Konik, shut out Lake City.

Konik and the nine other seniors on PIZM’s team have a high soccer IQ, as Raf says, which always helps when adjustments are needed throughout the game. The wisdom and passion from PIZM’s leaders is what makes the team stand out.

But, as PIZM wraps up its regular season on Saturday and looks to another playoff run, there are a few things Raf wants to clean up.

“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “Just because we won this game doesn’t mean we’re done. The job is never done.”

Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa 2, Lake City 0
Pine Island-Zumbrota-Mazeppa#2#0#—#2
Lake City#0#0#—#0
Pine Island-Zumbrota-Mazeppa: Brandt Konik 1 goal; Lucas Sems 1 goal. Goalie: Jason Ryan 4 saves.

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On the boys side, Mayo, PIZM and Winona Cotter all eye conference titles in southeastern Minnesota, while on the girls side, it will be a toss-up.

Abby Sharpe joined the Post Bulletin in February 2022 after graduating from Arizona State University with a sports journalism degree. While at ASU, she created short- and long-form stories for audio and digital. Readers can reach Abby at 507-285-7723 or asharpe@postbulletin.com.
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