Lebbi helps pace Fairmont Area’s comeback soccer win
FAIRMONT — Fairmont Area’s boys soccer team had its Southwest Minnesota Christian opponents right where the Cardinals wanted them Thursday night. Ahead on the scoreboard?
Trailing 2-0 during the second 40-minute half, Prince Lebbi, Eli Broomfield, Matthew Kotewa and Adrian Sanchez combined their skills to produce three consecutive goals during the final 13:53 to cap a 3-2 comeback win over the visiting Eagles at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.
“There are two things about this team I’ve figured out so far,” said Fairmont Area interim head coach Ryan Hennager, who’s filling in for regular mentor Brady Meyer due to illness. “One, these guys don’t give up, and two, they oddly almost like to down in a game.
“Once they get behind, they seem to relax and just let it flow.”
Lebbi delivered two of the Cardinals’ goals — the first one and the eventual game-winning third one with 6:27 remaining in regulation.
Knotted at 2-all, Sanchez hammered a 65-yard free kick that spun and curled toward the left pipe from the far left sideline. Lebbi not only distracted Eagles’ goalkeeper Jarett Kuipers on the play, but headed the high carom into the corner twine for the go-ahead goal.
“I don’t know if he (Lebbi) needed to touch it (the long kick) by the way it bounced, but he made sure it went in,” said Hennager.
Lebbi also utilized a leaping header shot to answer the Eagles’ second goal only 27 seconds later in the second half. Down 2-0, Kotewa lofted a precision pass to Lebbi, who knocked the ball by Kuipers with 13:53 remaining in regulation. The Eagles’ Micah Schaap had just played a game of pass-leap-and-tap with himself at the 14:20 juncture to widen the visitors’ margin to two goals.
Broomfield then alertly produced the Cardinals’ equalizer by having a unique sense for the soccer ball’s location. Lebbi drove the box before Kuipers blocked his initial shot as the two players collided, sending both sprawling into the grass. A hustling Broomfield trailed the play, picked up the carom and drilled home a putback goal for a 2-all tie with 13:22 left in second half.
After nearly 64 scoreless minutes of a defensive struggle, Schaap finally ended the drought by skidding a low crossing shot by Fairmont Area goalie Berny Esquivel Rosales. Schaap took a perfect lead pass from Levi Van Dyken, rushed the right wing and found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 16:36 left in regulation.
Kuipers finished with a game-leading 13 saves, including fully-extended diving bat-aways against Kotewa, Broomfield and Lebbi during the opening half.
Esquivel Rosales turned away eight opposing shots between the pipes to net the win for the Cardinals.
Fairmont Area (6-4-2) plays host to Mankato Loyola on Tuesday night at Kot Soccer Complex.
Mankato East 4, Fairmont Area 1 — Ella Huettl generated two goals to help the Cougars hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season during nonconference action Thursday night in Mankato.
Huettl found the back of the net with 35:02 remaining in the opening half before doubling her point production with an unassisted goal at the 12:03 juncture.
Rayah Quiring generated an unassisted goal with 15:01 left in the second half to whittle the Cardinals’ deficit to 2-1, but the Cougars would claw out two more goals to put the game out of reach.
Kyle Stude matched Quiring by scoring a goal at the 13:54 mark for East, while Kenzie Keller chiped in a solo goal with just 5:17 to go.
East netted 16 shots on goal and three corners, while Fairmont Area delivered only four shots on goal and three corners.
Cadee Becker tallied a game-leading 12 saves for the Cardinals, while Ashley Fischer and Izzy Schott shared net-minding duties en route to three saves.
Fairmont Area (7-1-1) plays host to Waseca at 7 p.m. Monday night at Kot Soccer Complex.