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Lebbi powers Fairmont Area to sectional boys soccer win

SLIDING BY — Fairmont Area’s Armando Hernandez (22) keeps his balanced and kicks the soccer ball past sliding Cannon Falls goalkeeper Bennett Lochner for a goal during a Section 2A quarterfinal game Thursday night at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Fairmont Area’s penchant for second-half comebacks was not necessary during Thursday night’s first-round boys soccer playoff game.

Lincoln Becker’s 20-yard blast from the point broke the ice less than 4 minutes into the contest, while Prince Lebbi produced half of the hometown Cardinals’ four second-half goals to pace a 6-0 Section 2A quarterfinal victory over the No. 6-seeded Cannon Falls Bombers at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.

No. 3-seeded Fairmont Area (10-5-2) travels to No. 2-seeded St. Peter on Saturday for a noon sectional semifinal game. St. Peter eliminated No. 7-seeded Tri-City United, 9-1.

No. 6-seeded Cannon Falls ends its season with a 1-10-3 record.

“It always feels good to win whether it’s during the regular season or the playoffs,” Fairmont Area head coach Brady Meyer said with a smile. “We just took the first step forward, and it’s onward from here.”

Becker cashed in the Cardinals’ initial shot of the opening 40-minute half by settling the soccer ball at the point and ripped a rising liner into the twine for a 1-0 lead at the 36:31 juncture.

Both defenses stonewalled their respective opposing offenses for the ensuing 35 minutes before hard-charging Matthew Kotewa produced a momentum-turning goal. Adrian Sanchez cleared a pass ahead to the fleet-footed Kotewa, who weaved around Bomber defenders along the right wing. Kotewa drilled a sizzling shot into the left top shelf to double Fairmont Area’s lead to 2-0 with only 1:15 left before halftime.

“His (Kotewa) late goal was huge for getting us pumped up again,” said Meyer.

Ironically, goalie Berny Esquivel Rosales, who made three first-half saves, did not face any Cannon Falls’ shots on net during the final 40 minutes due to Fairmont Area’s clearing defense led by Carson Pomerenke and Eli Broomfield.

With the Bombers’ offense held in check, Lebbi doubled the Cardinals’ margin with back-to-back goals during the second half.

Lebbi took Jack Sadusky’s short pass just right of the point and casually lofted a 30-yarder that caught nothing but net to extend the home team’s lead to 3-0 with 24:23 left in regulation.

Lebbi then maneuvered along the right end line, juked right and kicked an odd-caroming skip shot that bounced off a Cannon Falls defender and into the twine for a 4-0 lead with 10:34 to go.

Lebbi nearly achieved a hat trick by drilling a rising liner off the post that Sebastian Leon Lorenzo alertly tracked down and knocked home the rebound for a goal at the 7:13 juncture.

Armando Hernandez then put the game away for good by outmaneuvering a sliding Cannon Falls goalkeeper Bennett Lochner on a drive and found an open net for a goal with 3:03 remaining on the scoreboard.

The Cardinals’ offense outshot the Bombers by an 11-0 margin during the second half.

Cannon Falls 0-0–0

Fairmont Area 2-4–6

SCORING PLAYS

1st Half

FA–Lincoln Becker (unassisted), 36:31.

FA–Matthew Kotewa (Adrian Sanchez), 1:15.

2nd Half

FA–Prince Lebbi (Jack Sadusky), 24:23.

FA–Lebbi (unassisted), 10:34.

FA–Sebastian Leon Lorenzo (Lebbi), 7:13.

FA–Armando Hernandez (unassisted), 3:03.

Shots on goal: Fairmont Area 6-11–17; Cannon Falls 3-0–3. Saves: Berny Esquivel Rosales (FA) 3; Bennett Lochner (CF) 11.

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