Going with ‘tear it apart’ strategy

Joe Prell broke through with two goals and one assist in the game at Two Harbors where the Vikings won after losing at home to #4 state-ranked Totino-Grace. Photo by Victoria Dahlin

After losing to tough, state-ranked Totino-Grace and St. Francis, the North Branch boys soccer team defeated Two Harbors.

In its first game last week, the Vikings hosted and lost 9-1 to the #4 state ranked Eagles, with Tyler Gudmundson scoring the only North Branch goal off an assist from Captain Levi Kolke.

Then Thursday the team traveled to St. Francis and lost 3-1, before making the trip to Two Harbors last Saturday and brought home a 6-1 victory.

“NB boys soccer had a very interesting week,” said Coach Paul Pignato. “After a disappointing loss to Totino-Grace, the NB captains and coaches had a serious discussion about what we could do to stop and reverse these type of results. It was decided to ‘tear it apart’ and put a new strategy together, even though the new strategy would put players into positions they had never previously played.

“This new strategy was kicked off against St. Francis,” said Coach Pignato. “At the half, the score was 1-1, which represented a stunning improvement in play, possession and defense containment. Levi Kolke scored the first goal for NB on a quick turn, small separation shot that found the upper left corner of the net (using his strong left foot). In the second half, the breaks went St. Francis’ way with St. Francis scoring twice. We had several excellent opportunities, but could not find the back of the net.

“Brandon Kratzke started his first game in goal, frequently thwarting the St. Francis efforts to score. Eric Chilstrom moved from goal to outside mid and played a very strong game two days after an injury that resulted in missing the second half of the Totino-Grace game. Even though this was a loss, it was a win for the program and our improvement as a team.

“The team then traveled to Two Harbors with a new confidence,” said Coach Pignato. “Led by Logan Klatt’s two goals, two assist efforts, the team dominated the pitch with control and transition passing. Joe Prell broke through with two goals and one assist, finding his stride in scoring. Levi Kolke and Matt Blomquist added the other two goals for the team with Matt’s goal starting the scoring for the game. Additional assists came from Ryan Zentner, Colten Danks, and Brett Bergstrom.

“Jon Blomquist once again played a full game without rest, anchoring a defense that is increasing in depth. Luke Zschokke played a significant role in multiple positions, frequently stopping attacks and turning the play into a counter attack for us. Brandon Kratzke started in goal again, solidifying himself as the starting goalie for this team,” Pignato pointed out.

The North Branch boys soccer team will travel to Lindstrom to face the Chisago Lakes Area Wildcats at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 before traveling to Duluth Denfeld High School to face the Hunters at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. The Vikings will then host the Irondale Knights at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18.

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