BY ROB LAPLANTE
Not even the cold weather could slow down the red-hot St. Michael-Albertville boys’ soccer team.
STMA extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games with a 3-2 overtime victory last Thursday against a Monticello Magic team that previously had won five games in a row.
With players wearing gloves, stocking hats and fans dressed in winter coats and covered in thick blankets, Community Ed Field was full and loud as both teams battled, despite the un-cozy elements.
The Magic would strike first when Nick Simondet snuck behind the defense and fired a shot past junior goalkeeper Sammy Guillou.
“They had just beat Buffalo, Cambridge-Isanti and Rogers, so I thought they would be tough,” said head coach Dark Dewey. “Both goals were outside our defense. The first ball was a really good serve and Nick is fast and he beat our defense.”
With both teams exchanging chances, it was a corner kick for the Knights with five seconds left in the first half that eventually played a major role in the outcome in the game.
A ball that appeared to be heading into the net was knocked away in the goal crease by the hands of a Monticello defending player. By rule, the defending player who touched the ball is given a red card and kicked out of the remainder of the game. It also allowed a penalty kick with no time remaining on the clock.
Senior David Anderson’s attempt to tie the score on the penalty kick was denied by a diving save by Monticello goaltender Tanner Fischer.
Even with momentum on the side of the Magic, the Knights had the luxury of playing the rest of the game a man up.
“Yeah, that was big,” said senior forward Justin McLain, on Monticello receiving a red card. “They only had 10 players, so we were able to control the ball and put more pressure on them.”
It took about four minutes into the second half for the Knights to tie the score. Junior forward Cory Kackman scored his fourth goal of the season when he tipped in a beautiful header off a direct kick.
McLain was held in check most the game. Coming off three straight games where he scored at least three goals, McLain finally found net shortly after Kackman’s goal.
“I just tried to get a shot off as quick as I could and it found the corner,” said McLain, who finished the regular season with 20 goals. “My foot’s back to full strength, so I can run better and cut and stuff.”
Down a man, the Magic still had fight and with 5:05 left in the game, a shot from Zach Beaumaster found the top right corner of the net evening the score 2-2.
The game head to overtime and in the opening five minutes, an unlikely hero put the Knights up 3-2. Senior midfielder Kevin Daleiden grabbed a rebound and fired a shot past Fischer. It was Daleiden’s first goal of the season.
Monticello couldn’t answer and the Knights were left celebrating their second consecutive Mississippi 8 title. A title they had clinched earlier in the week with a 9-0 victory over Big Lake.
“We still have things we can fix, but I like where we are as a team,” Dewey said. “We can score goals and our defense and goalie have come up big.”
STMA (10-3-3 overall) received the No. 3 seed in the Section 8AA playoff bracket. Thursday they host No. 6 seed Anoka (6-9-1 overall) at 7 p.m. The winner faces the winner between No. 2 seed Elk River or No. 7 seed Rogers on Saturday.
Moorhead is the section’s top seed, followed by Elk River, STMA, St. Cloud Tech, Buffalo, Anoka, Rogers and Brainerd. The Knights lost last season in the section finals 4-2 to Anoka.