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Trojans’ second-half comeback knocks off Cardinals

NARROW WINDOW — Fairmont Area defender Eli Broomfield (far left) filters his soccer pass between Worthington’s Ulises Barrera (13) and Cardinal teammates Osvaldo Morales (11) and Jackson Utermarck (10) during Big South Conference action Tuesday night at Jeffery Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — A Dickensesque tale of two Big South Conference boys soccer halves.

Striker Isaiah Lebbi produced the initial 40-minute segment’s only goal and netkeeper Bryant Armitage posted six saves to help the Fairmont Area Cardinals cling to a 1-0 lead over the Worthington Trojans at intermission on Tuesday night at Jeffery Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.

Ironically, Jonathan Banegas’ grass-hugging trickler that eluded Armitage’s grasp a little more than 6 minutes into the second half opened the scoring floodgates for Worthington.

Eric Knuckles contributed two goals, while teammate Dalen Gonzalez nailed two penalty kicks to steer the visiting Trojans to a 5-1 comeback win over the Cardinals.

“It was a tale of two halves,” said Fairmont Area head coach Brady Meyer. “I thought we controlled the pace in the first half, but we just seemed to lose our mental focus during the second half and couldn’t get it back.”

Lebbi tallied the Cardinals’ first goal of the modified 11-game schedule by tracking down an errant Trojan outlet pass and drilled a left-to-right shot at the 12:25 juncture of the opening half for a 1-0 margin.

“You have to give Fairmont (Area) credit for doing a great job of pressuring our first touches during the first half,” said Worthington head coach Juan Flores. “I thought the second half we came out with better energy and our kids really stepped up the level of their play to pull away.”

Banegas, who netted two goals in the Trojans’ season-opening victory over New Ulm last Friday night, collided with Armitage after the Cardinal netminder scooped up a low roller near the doorstep. After the contact, the ball skidded across the goal line to knot the game at 1-all.

“It’s incredible how one goal can change a high school team’s confidence level, and that’s what happened with them (the Trojans) tonight,” said Meyer.

Knuckles then drilled a right-wing 12-yarder at 29:26 to trigger a four-goal Worthington outburst that spanned the ensuing 8 minutes.

Gonzalez was fouled inside the box to create his left-to-right penalty kick that Armitage got his fingertips on, but couldn’t alter the projectory enough for a save at the 27:24 mark.

Only 84 seconds later, Knuckles muscled his way through the Cardinals’ defensive wall to kick a shot inside the right post for a 4-1 lead before Gonzalez added his second penalty kick with 20:59 remaining. This time, Gonzalez faked right and drilled the PK inside the left post for a 5-1 margin.

“He (Gonzalez) is our most confident kicker when it’s time to step up for the team,” Flores said in reference to his junior defender.

Worthington goalie Ricardo Rodriguez turned away five of Fairmont Area’s six shots on goal to net the victory.

Lebbi and Joshua Bergt each accounted for two of the Cardinals’ shots on goal, while Armitage recorded 10 saves on the night.

Fairmont Area (0-2) travels to St. Peter on Thursday night for a 6:45 p.m. contest, while Worthington (2-0) plays host to Mankato Loyola at 6 p.m. Friday night.

Worthington 0-5–5

Fairmont 1-0–1

Scoring Plays

1st Half

FA–Isaiah Lebbi (unassisted), 12:25.

2nd Half

WOR–Jonathan Banegas (unassisted), 33:33.

WOR–Eric Knuckles (unassisted), 29:26.

WOR–Dalen Gonzalez penalty kick, 27:24.

WOR–Eric Knuckles (unassisted), 26:00.

WOR–Dalen Gonzalez penalty kick, 20:59.

Shots on goal: Worthington 6-9–15; Fairmont Area 4-2–6. Corners: Worthington 3; Fairmont Area 0.

Saves: Bryant Armitage (FA) 10; Ricardo Rodriguez (WOR) 5, Osmin Pineda (WOR) 0.

Worthington coasted to an 11-0 victory over Fairmont Area during junior varsity action Tuesday night at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.

Worthington edged Fairmont Area, 3-2, during C-squad action Tuesday night in Fairmont.

Angel Sanchez tallied the Cardinals’ first goal via a corner kick, while Douglas Garcia scored the home team’s second goal in the second half.

Goalkeeper Ethan Pockrus recorded 11 saves between the pipes for Fairmont Area.

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