State soccer: Bengals into boys’ final

Blaine has a chance to do something of a first at Blaine – win a state soccer championship.

The Bengals trailed 1-0 in the opening 15 minutes after Bloomington Jefferson converted a penalty kick only to respond with three goals in a 3-1 final in the Class AA semifinal game played at Mall of America Field at Metrodome Oct. 29.

Blaine answered back with its own penalty kick 1:12 later, in the 16th minute as captain Colton Nelson placed the ball inside the post, under Jefferson’s diving goalkeeper to make it 1-1.

The decisive play of the game came 20 seconds from halftime as Jeremiah Strand did his best to open up space near the corner flag before sending a low cross into the goal box. Senior Mitch Boege was once again in the right place at the right time as he tucked the ball between the Jaguar keeper and the post to make it 2-1.

Blaine’s T.J. Soehn made it 3-1 with an assist from Noah Bruder who was set up with a nifty heal pass from Boege. Bruder took the pass and made a cross-field pass to Soehn who weaved his way though the Jaguars defense before slotting home the goal.

Jefferson held possession early on but Blaine held its ground and didn’t allow many lanes to push the ball forward against the Bengals.

The Jaguars came into the state semifinals on an eight game winning streak, 9-1-1 over the last 11 games.  Meanwhile Blaine was 13-1-1 over the last 15 games and established a three game winning streak heading into the Oct. 29 game. The lone loss was the 5-3 second-half collapse against Champlin Park Oct. 4. Playing inside the Metrodome isn’t anything new for Bloomington Jefferson who has four state tournament appearances over the last five seasons.

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