The Austin Packers boys’ soccer team, the No. 1 seed in the Section 1A boys’ soccer tournament and the No. 2 team in the state in Class A according to the final poll of the 2020 season from the Minnesota Soccer Hub took on second-seeded Dover/Eyota for the section title in St. Charles Wednesday evening, and in a tense, hard-fought game from start to finish, a penalty kick shootout was necessary to determine a winner. Senior goalkeeper Casey Berg made two massive saves and all four of Austin’s shooters connected in a 2-1 win to claim their fourth straight Section 1A title.
The two teams battled to a scoreless tie at halftime, but in the 43rd minute, Andres Garcia, who came into the game as the leading scorer in the state with 31 goals notched number 32 as he was able to stay onsides and get behind the Eagle defense on his way to making the score 1-0.
After Garcia’s goal, momentum continued to shift back and forth with both teams putting pressure on the other until the officials ruled that Dover-Eyota’s Mavrick Sobczak was fouled in the penalty area in the 73rd minute, and McKray Tuma buried the ensuing penalty kick in the back of the net to tie the score at one apiece.
The two squads then batttled through two sudden-death overtime periods that saw good offensive chances for both sides, particularly for the Eagles when a shot off a corner kick was turned away by senior Gree Ha, who was stationed by the right post. The two sides then went into a penalty kick shootout to decide the outcome, and the Packers were the first team to send a shooter to the mark. Senior Jose Valladares, who came into the game as one of the leaders in the state in assists with 14 fired a shot into the back of the net past Eagle keeper Anthony Swenson to put Austin into the lead 1-0. Berg then stepped to the fore for the Packers as he dove to his right to turn away a shot from Tyler Johnson, who came into the match with the second most goals in the state behind the Packers’ Garcia with 27. Senior defender Billy Macias was the second shooter for Austin, and he converted his penalty kick attempt by putting the ball into the upper right corner of the net to put the Packers up 2-0. Sophomore Brodie Kellen gave D-E some life when he converted on his attempt to cut Austin’s lead to 2-1, but Senior defender Zach Smith immediately countered for the Packers by also going high to the right side of the goal to make it 3-1 in favor of Austin. Defender McCray Tuma then tallied for the Eagles to cut Austin’s lead to 3-2, but Gree Ha then fired a shot that was partially stopped by Swenson, but not enough to keep the ball from going into the net to increase the Packers’ lead to 4-2. Swenson then came out of the net for D-E as the fourth shooter, but his left-footed strike was turned away by Berg to clinch the win and a fourth straight section title for the Packers.
Berg wound up making 14 saves for the Packers, who finish at 13-0-1. It was the first undefeated season in the programs’ history, and Austin also claimed their fourth straight Big 9 Conference title this season by defeating Northfield on the road 2-0 on October 6th.