NB boys close regular season, look ahead

Pignato calls team an unpredictable underdog

Junior goalie Cameron Sampson gives his dad a hug on Parents Night during the Viking home game against Monticello last Thursday.  Photos by Kat Ladwig

Junior goalie Cameron Sampson gives his dad a hug on Parents Night during the Viking home game against Monticello last Thursday.
Photos by Kat Ladwig

The Vikings closed their 2013 regular season last week with a 2-2 tie to Big Lake and 3-1 loss to Monticello to bring the squad’s overall record to 2-12-2.

In the matchup at home on Parents Night against Monticello, the Vikings were tied 1-1 heading into the half, a feat considering the Magic are undefeated in section play and sit at the second seed just behind Chisago Lakes, despite just defeating the Wildcats 2-1 on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

North Branch head coach Paul Pignato said the boys played very well, but have some work to do before post-season play commences.

“We played well enough to win against Monticello, and that’s how I expect us to play,” Pignato said. “But [Monticello] got a goal right away and we missed two open shots, so if we can cut down on the those few big mistakes a game, we’re right there.”

Ryan Schaal scored a goal for North Branch in both last week, totaling five on the season for the junior. Senior Brett Bergstrom recorded one goal and one assist in the tie with Big Lake, bringing his goal leader total to nine this season.

Sophomore Sam Peterson fights for the ball against the Magic during the last regular-season home game.

Sophomore Sam Peterson fights for the ball against the Magic during the last regular-season home game.

Although exact seedings have not yet been determined, North Branch sits at the 13-seed of 15 in Section 7A standings.

Pignato said being the underdog is not uncommon to the Viking boys, but that doesn’t mean their opponent should write them off, either. Last season, North Branch earned the No. 10 seed and upset the No.7-seed Hibbing/Chisholm on the road.

“We’re a major underdog, but we tend to play up or down to our opponents, so we can definitely win,” Pignato said. “Our team would scare me if I were playing us in sections — we’re unpredictable.”

The first round of Section 7A play begins on Thursday, Oct. 10. For exact times and seedings, visit the Section 7A tournament bracket on www.mshsl.org.

 

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