Northfield 1-0 Elk River in overtime.
The Elk River Elks (12-4-3) took on the Northfield Raiders (13-4-3) in a rain soaked class 1A Boys State Tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday evening at Hopkins HS. The match saw a number of chances for both teams. Northfield broke down Elk River’s defense a number of times turning defenders for shots. But the Raiders’ shots never found their target.
On the other end, Elk River had their best chance with 3 minutes left in the first half. A through ball was played long on the ground to forward Nikita Edwards who sprinted towards the ball. Northfield keeper Joey Petrich also took off for the ball getting there at the same time. The ball bounced clear and toward the goal where a Northfield defender cleared the ball off the line.
The half ended with 7 shots on goal for each team.
13 minutes into the second half, Ernie Fox for Elk River took a blistering shot from 30 yards out and tested Northfield keeper Alex Gerdes. The goalkeeper went to a full stretch to his right and pushed the ball just clear of the far post.
With 20 minutes left to play in regulation time, Elk River attacked again. This time from a long cross played in from the right flank by Nikita Edwards. The senior forward drove the ball into the center of the goal box and just past Gerdes. Stephen Kaminsky for the Elks looked to have a sure goal with his head but he shot it wide of the goal.
A minute later it was Northfield’s chance to test Elk River’s keeper Petrich. A ball was played into the box and was missed by the Elk keeper. The ball caromed around before a shot was taken that was deflected wide of the goal by the Elks’ defense.
With 3 minutes left in regulation time Scott Abdella had a shot at goal with nothing but the keeper to beat from 10 yards out. He drilled the ball but right to keeper Petrich who gobbled up the shot.
Full-time ended with an advantage of shots to Elk River, 17-13 . The Elks also had the best chances in the second half threatening often.
Elk River continued to attack and 7 minutes into the first overtime the Elks’ Edwards hit a blistering shot just wide of goal from 25 yards out.
Then with 2:13 remaining in the first overtime, the Raiders turned the tables. Left footed Aaron Stets took the ball from the left flank and delivered a lofted cross-field pass into Scott Abdella. The senior forward settled the ball and unleashed a 35 yard shot that skipped on the wet turf past Petrich and into goal to advance the Raiders to the semifinals.
Stets said when he saw Abdella making the run he knew he could finish the chance if he delivered the ball to him. “I saw him making the run,” said Stets. “We’ve been sending him there all season. He’s a great forward and I knew if I could hit him a good ball he’d make a good finish. I hit it with my left foot and I’m a left footer and he just put it in beautifully.”
“That’s the best shot of my life, the best goal, the best soccer moment of my life,” said goal scorer Abdella. “The ball was bouncing, I saw the defenders running at me, I knew I wasn’t going to beat them. So I just volleyed it and it skidded on the wet turf. I was just extremely happy it went in.”
“We’ve won our games this year with our awesome defense,” explained Stets. “Our goalie played amazing and our captains leading at the back were great and we were lucky to pull through.”
Northfield head coach Jorge Zuccolotto echoed Stets’ praise for the team’s defense but also believes maturity is making a difference. “Two years ago we went to state with this same bunch of guys,” said Zuccolotto. “They were sophomores and we got beat pretty badly. This is the same team, and now they’ve got the experience, they’ve got the speed, they’ve got the heart and we’ve got a good keeper who came out and played very strong today. But our defense is our strength. Definitely!”
Northfield will take on undefeated Apple Valley at the Metrodome at 4:00 pm on Monday November 2 in the boys 2A Semifinals.