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Cardinals march to boys soccer sectional title game

Berny Esquivel Rosales

ST. PETER — Fairmont Area head coach Brady Meyer and his “go-ahead, stay-ahead” Cardinals earned a spot in the Section 2A boys soccer championship game.

Junior striker Matthew Kotewa converted Prince Lebbi’s assist into the Section 2A semifinal’s only goal before netminder Berny Esquivel Rosales made 11 saves to power No. 3-seeded Fairmont Area to a 1-0 triumph over the No. 2-seeded St. Peter Saints on Saturday in St. Peter.

Fairmont Area (11-5-2) squares off against Class A No. 10-ranked and No. 1-seeded Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa in Thursday’s 5 p.m. sectional showdown in Austin.

PIZM eliminated No. 5-seeded Mankato Loyola/Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/St. Clair/Madelia by a narrow 3-2 decision on Saturday night.

“Our guys continue to work hard and stay focused on the task at hand,” said Meyer, whose lineup gained the sectional finale for the first time since the 2012 campaign.

Esquivel Rosales produced his second consecutive postseason shutout to help the Cardinals record their sixth win in the last seven games. Fairmont Area kicked off the playoffs with a 6-0 win over Cannon Falls last Thursday night.

Fairmont Area also avenged two regular-season losses to St. Peter with the playoff victory. The Saints defeated the Cardinals, 5-2, in their Aug. 26 season-opener before St. Peter collected a lightning-shortened 1-0 decision at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont on Sept. 16.

Kotewa cashed in Lebbi’s assist with 6:28 remaining in the opening 40-minute half to stake the Cardinals to a one-goal lead they would not relinquish.

Ben Heinze and Eli Broomfield produced Fairmont Area’s other two shots on goal as St. Peter went on to post an eight-plus advantage in that statistical category in the semifinal.

The Saints earned four corner kicks on the game, while the Cardinals had just two shots on net.

Fairmont 1-0–1

St. Peter 0-0–0

Scoring Plays

1st Half

FA–Matthew Kotewa (Prince Lebbi), 6:28.

2nd Half

No scoring.

Shots on goal: St. Peter 11; Fairmont Area 3.

Saves: Berny Esquivel Rosales (F) 11.

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