A year ago, the second ranked Pelican Rapids Vikings Boys' soccer team faced Alexandria in the post season and were stunned when the Cardinals pulled off a 3-2 upset victory in the second round of the playoffs. That game had been played at the Otter Stadium in Fergus Falls. The game was supposed to be played in Pelican Rapids but six inches of snow had left Brown Field unplayable and the home field advantage was lost as the game had to be moved to a neutral site.
This year the Vikings set out at the start of the season with the goal to earn the number 1 seed in the Section and ensure home field advantage until the Section final should they advance that far. And so, the Vikings hosted the Alexandria Cardinals in the second round of the playoffs at Brown Field. Alexandria had a record of 2-4-4 and had earned their trip to this match after defeating Detroit Lakes 4-0 in the first round. The Vikings were hoping to maintain momentum from their 10-1 first round victory over Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.
The styles in the game were quite contrasting as the Cardinals looked to sit back on defense and play a direct style of play while the Vikings hoped to dominate possession and use a pressing defense to control Alexandria. The majority of play in the 1st half was in the Cardinal end with Cardinal goalkeeper Ryan Meuwissen made save after save to turn the Vikings away while Sebastian Rosiles made a big early save for the Vikings. With 14 minutes remaining, Alexandria converted a 50-yard free kick when sophomore Jack Carlson headed the long pass past Rosiles and into the goal to put the Cardinals ahead 1-0.
This gave the Cardinals tremendous confidence as they had not lost when scoring first this year having won or tied each of the previous six games in which they had scored first. However, just before the break, Mohamed Ahmed broke loose and got a ball past Meuwissen to tie the score with just 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
In the second half, the game intensity increased as the Vikings continually tried to break down the Cardinal defense. Six yellow cards were handed out for rough fouls in the second half, three for each team. Abdirahman Said had the Vikings best chance on goal late in the 2nd half but was denied by a spectacular Meuwissen save. With the Vikings unable to break the deadlock and Alexandria's attack smothered by the Vikings defense, the game moved to Golden Goal overtime.
This is a 20-minute sudden death overtime used in the playoffs in Minnesota. Just two minutes into overtime, Cardinal defender Jaeger Steele picked up his second yellow card of the game, which resulted in a red card and Steele being sent off reducing the Cardinals to 10 men. However, even with one less player, Meuwissen's play in goal kept the Vikings out.
As the Vikings peppered the goal with shots, eventually a loose ball popped out at the feet of Jaime Zavala Franco and he was able to stick the winner past Meuwissen as the Vikings' bench emptied in celebration.
The Vikings, now 9-2 on the season, will play host to number three seeded Bemidji at home on Tuesday in the Section Semi-finals. Bemidji defeated East Grand Forks 1-0 in overtime on Saturday night.