MESABI DAILY NEWS

AURORA — The Mesabi East Area boys’ soccer team held a 3-1 lead at one point in their 7A play-in playoff game with Lakes International Language Academy.

Things quickly went south from there however, as they saw their lead evaporate and eventually fell to the Dragons 5-4 in overtime.

Senior Joe Hafdahl etched the first three Mesabi East goals to put his squad up 3-1. On the first and third goals, Hafdahl was assisted by Andrew Torrel. For the second, he was assisted by Elliot Van Orsdel.

“It was great to see Joe finishing some of the opportunities he had,” Giants head coach Jared Anderson said after the game. “He had a few more breakaways that he couldn’t quite finish on that but what he had was great.”

That 3-1 lead wouldn’t last, however, as LILA got some lucky bounces in the second half to slowly creep back into the game. All the while, Mesabi East’s shots on goal just weren’t connecting to put the game away.

The Dragons then took a 4-3 lead in the second half before Mesabi East’s Gavin Benz knotted things up at four after finding the back of the net on a corner kick from Torrel. The game tied, the Giants offense looked to score again quickly, but the shots weren’t able to find their way past the LILA goalie Ethan Maring.

“After it was tied, it was just hack after hack at the net,” Anderson said. “But we just couldn’t get the goal.”

With about 20 seconds left in regulation, Giants attacker Tyler Mount had one last shot at the net and with plenty of space surrounding him, his shot missed just left of the goal.

“He’s the player you want in that spot,” Anderson said. “If I had to choose any player on the field, it would be him in that situation. It’s just the way things were going for us late that we barely missed.”

The Dragons would go on to score in overtime, ending Mesabi East Area’s season.

“You never want the season to end. I wasn’t quite ready to give that end of the season speech because we were confident. We played well on the field but it just didn’t go our way.”

Despite the loss, Anderson says that it looks like the program is heading in the right direction due to many different factors.

“The common thread I’ve heard lately through parents, fans and other coaches is that this team coming up the last few years has been the most fun to watch through their improvement and how they play as a team. That might go over a high schooler’s head but I think people are starting to see the improvement.

“We’re a very junior heavy team so that’s another thing to look forward to. I’m expecting a strong return next year. And our new field is going to be 100% playable right from the get-go which is another awesome thing to be excited about.”

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