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PIZM boys drop heartbreaker in double OT in state soccer quarterfinals

The Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa boys soccer team saw its season end with a 2-1 loss to St. Anthony Village in the Class A state quarterfinals on Thursday.

PIZM boys soccer.jpg
Pine Island/Zumbrota Mazeppa boys soccer assistant coach Eric Tree, left, consoles his son, junior defenseman Christopher Tree, after the Wildcats suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in double overtime to St. Anthony Village in the Class A boys soccer state quarterfinals in Edina on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.
Guy N. Limbeck / Post Bulletin
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EDINA — In the end, there was nothing but heartache for the Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa boys soccer team.

The Wildcats, the No. 2 seed, had their hopes of a state title dashed with a 2-1 loss to unseeded St. Anthony Village in double overtime on Thursday at the Class A state quarterfinals.

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"It's a tough loss, but they will be stronger for this," PIZM coach Rafal Konik said. "It's a life lesson."

That lesson may take a while to set in, however, as the PIZM players flopped to the ground in distraught when Alan Molina scored with 4:14 left in the second overtime to give the Huskies (11-6-1) the victory.

“No matter the outcome, I know these guys put everything out on the field,” senior Brandt Konik said. “We worked hard together as brothers, we pushed each other. I don’t care about the outcome, I was just glad to play with these guys for this many years. It’s been an honor playing with them and I’m going to miss it.”

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The goal came just seconds after PIZM had put heavy pressure on in the St. Anthony zone. The Wildcats thought a St. Anthony player had touched the ball with his hand in the box during the flurry, which would have meant a penalty kick for PIZM.

“Nothing you can do, the refs will miss calls,” Brandt Konik said. “You just have to keep playing through it.”

The way the game started, it didn't appear any late-game heroics were be needed by either squad. PIZM, battling a case of the jitters, got off to a slow start and was outplayed during the first half.

St. Anthony Village was putting on solid pressure during the first 40 minutes. The Husker went up 1-0 when Hans Asare scored with 18:22 left in the half.

“I think there were some players who were nervous,” coach Konik said. “The first half we had a hard time getting touches.”

During the second half, the Wildcats found their stride, however. They played with much more confidence and controlled play. After several close calls, Brandt Konik tied the game for the Wildcats with 24:49 left in regulation. Sophomore Lucas Sems collected an assist on the play.

“The second half we felt the momentum change,” Brandt Konik said. “We knew we could play (with them) and it was our game. The momentum was changing, we were playing as a team, we just had to calm down and find our rhythm. Things just didn’t go our way at the end.”

The Wildcats had several other strong chances, including Carter Christopherson being denied from close range with 20:28 to play when the game was 1-1. Then in the closing seconds of regulation, Christopherson knocked a header just wide of the goal.

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“We came very close, the ball just didn’t go in,” coach Konik said. “But that’s soccer, you have a lot of chances and the ball just doesn’t go in.”

Wildcats goalie Jason Ryan finished with 10 saves. The senior allowed just nine goals in 20 games this season. He took it hard when Molina scored the winning goal, but the shot was and open look from point-blank range.

The Wildcats, who entered state play with a nine-game winning streak, close the season 16-3. They were playing in the state tournament for a second straight year and placed third a year ago.

“I felt we had a really good team this year and I felt we had a chance to go to the championship game this year,” coach Konik said. “Our boys played their hearts out and gave 100 percent. I couldn’t ask for more.”

The Wildcats have 12 seniors on this year's squad. But the program is surging and the future appears bright, as 12 players from the state roster will return in 2023.

“I want to see these boys come back next year,” Brandt Konik said. “I want to watch them and state and cheer them on, it’s going to be awesome.”

St. Anthony will now face unseeded Legacy Christian Academy (17-1-1) in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

St. Anthony 2, PIZM 1, 2 OT
St. Anthony#1#0#0#1#—#2
PIZM#0#1#0#0#—#1
St. Anthony Village: Hans Asare 1 goal; Alan Molina 1 goal; Makai Odiase 1 assist; Max Plaza 1 assist. Goalie: Diego Brenes 7 saves.
Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa: Brandt Konik 1 goal; Lucas Sems 1 assist. Goalie: Jason Ryan 10 saves.

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Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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