Scoreless game decided in eighth round of penalty kicks
The Forest Lake boys soccer team had just seen its season end – in the most painful way possible. So senior captain Carter Thiesfeld brought the players together in a huddle to share one final thought.
“I thought we had a heck of a season, and I didn’t want us to let one thing bring us down,” Thiesfeld said when asked about that final huddle. “We played a great game, and we did exactly what the coaches wanted. I wanted all of the boys to be together one last time. We’re a family, and I wanted us to smile together, to cry together, and just always be together.”
The Rangers had reason to cry following a 1-0 loss in penalty kicks at Centennial in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A Section 7 tournament played on the Cougars’ home pitch. The penalty kicks took eight rounds before Centennial netted the game-winner.
But that was only part of the reason the Rangers felt the pain of losing. Another was the back-and-forth nature of the contest, which was greatly affected by strong, gusting winds that batted down kicks made by the team defending the east goal.
“Both teams had to adjust: You move your strong players forward when you’re playing with the wind, and you move them back when you’re against it,” Forest Lake coach Joe Tomas said. “I don’t think it was a well-played game by either team, and I thought the wind had something to do with that.”
Forest Lake had the wind at its back in the first half, and the best scoring chance for the Rangers, who were the fifth seed in the tournament, came on a long free kick by Thiesfeld late in the half that banged off the crossbar. In the second half No. 4 seed Centennial was helped by the wind and created several dangerous chances that were stopped by Forest Lake goalkeeper Terek Thomas.
Then the Rangers forced a Centennial foul in the penalty box, which gave them a penalty kick with just 5:58 left on the clock. Senior Isaiah Dresel scored, but Forest Lake was called for having a player enter the penalty area prematurely and the goal was disallowed.
But worse, Centennial was incorrectly given a free kick on the restart, and the game remained scoreless through regulation.
“I didn’t see it, but the official was right there, and he must have seen it,” Coach Tomas said of the encroachment call. “Apparently the player was on the line. But that’s not the problem. The rule is, if you score [the goal] and have an encroachment, you get a rekick.
“Obviously [the officials] didn’t know the rules. They should have looked it up before we played on. And that [decision] eventually cost us our season.”
In overtime, Forest Lake appeared doomed to defeat when they were whistled for an infraction in the penalty box with just 1:12 left in the extra session. But Terek Tomas, a junior, made the save that kept the season alive.
“Just to get us to penalty kicks was really special,” Coach Tomas said of his son’s save. “It was a well-taken shot, but it was an even better save.”
In penalty kicks, Forest Lake found itself in a quick hole when its first shot was blocked. Centennial scored on its first four shots, but the Rangers matched them. With a chance to win, Tomas stopped the Cougars’ fifth shot to force sudden-death penalty kicks.
From there the two teams traded misses in the sixth and seventh rounds. In the eighth round Forest Lake again failed to score, and then Centennial scored, meaning the Rangers’ season was over.
“We had our opportunities on the PKs – we just didn’t make good on them,” coach Tomas said.