The No. 10 (1A) Waconia boys’ soccer team grabbed its second straight Wright County Conference title last week with a 2-1 victory over Orono.
Undefeated in the WCC, as well as the regular season, the Wildcats won the conference with a 9-0-1 record, well ahead of Holy Family (4-1-2 conference) and Mound-Westonka (5-2-1 conference). The Wildcats are currently 13-0-1 this season and have won their last ten games.
Waconia 2, Orono 1
The Wildcats started the game strong on Sept. 25, hitting two crossbars and missing three other shots on goal from within the six-yard box. After Waconia was unable to capitalize on those chances, Orono stole the momentum and put the Waconia defense under pressure for the remainder of the half, according to head coach Tyrel Seim.
“Orono came close on a shot deflection that missed by inches and Waconia goalie Brandon Gonzalez had to make some saves to keep us in the game,” he said.
With five seconds left in the first half, senior Mitch Zebell got a shot past the Orono goalie to put the Wildcats up 1-0.
“That was a big goal because their goalie hadn’t touched the ball for 25 minutes and Orono had us on our heels,” Seim said.
The Wildcats dominated possession in the second half, creating a few more scoring opportunities, but could not find the back of the net. Orono scored in the second half when a shot deflection hit Gonzalez and rolled into the net.
Only a minute later, Seim said it looked as if the Spartans were going to take the lead with a breakaway, but Gonzalez came up with the “save of the year” and blocked the shot, which senior sweeper Ben Kullman was able to clear. Waconia took the game on a back heel pass from junior James Nash that allowed junior Marcel Montiel to score. Gonzalez finished the game with eight saves.
Seim said the game was hard fought and could have gone to either team. But in the end, it was Waconia that won the game and solidified their WCC title.
“We looked sluggish at times but were able to pull through in the end,” he said. “These guys are digging deep right now to finish off an unbelievable season and set us up for a playoff run.”
Waconia 2, Mound-Westonka 0
Seim described the Mound-Westonka defense as “packed in,” but the Wildcats were able to score two goals in the first half on Sept. 27.
Waconia dominated possession and scored midway through the first half on a corner kick that deflected around the box. Senior William Schultz put the loose ball in the goal to put the ‘Cats on the scoreboard. A Kullman set piece fed the ball to senior Nick Dirnberger, who scored Waconia’s second goal to lead 2-0 at the half.
Seim said the White Hawks “came out of their shell a little more” in the second half, but the Wildcats couldn’t put in another goal. Gonzalez had three saves for his tenth shutout in 14 games this year.
Seim said Mound-Westonka showed Waconia what the team still needs to work on, which includes creating scoring chances against solid defensive teams.
“Even though we had the ball the whole first half, we only had four chances to score and in the playoffs, that may not be enough to get victories,” he said.
The Wildcats wanted to repeat as conference champions, Seim said, and have now set their eyes on an undefeated season, which would be a first in team history.
“We have played solid all season and have kept our emotions in check to ensure we minimize the highs and lows working through some injuries,” he said.