by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Ryan Ness could not have placed a shot more perfectly, nor picked a more dramatic way to close out his four years of Elk River soccer at Jerry Schempf Field.
The Elk senior’s missive from about 35 yards out, left side of the goal, in overtime, descended just beneath the far upper corner of the goal, just over the outstretched hand of St. Cloud Tech goalie Robert Keeley, and delivered a 6-5 victory in the Section 8AA quarterfinals Thursday evening.
“That was Ness, being Ness,” grinned coach Tom Olson about his all-state midfielder who had two goals and assist in this uncommonly free-wheeling soccer game. “What a shot.”
The Elks’ all-time scoring leader and his cohorts kept alive their bid for a third straight section title. The Elks (9-8) will play at St. Michael-Albertville (11-4-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. The other semifinals has Moorhead at top-seeded Anoka.
“I tried to get it up and it went right where I wanted it to go,” said Ness after getting hoisted to the shoulders of celebrating teammates. “It was the same spot I was trying for earlier. I did it better on the second time.”
He referred to a free kick seconds into the overtime that sailed a foot high.
The Elks’ two first-half goals both came on throw-ins from Kaleb Orrock. Ness got the first one on a header, and Max Riebel got the second as he pounced on the ball after it skidded all the way through the box, near the edge of the goal.
Scoring in the second half were Adam Fordahl, sliding into a shot launched by Storm Heyer from the other side of the net; by Orrock on a boomer from about 30 yards; and by Heyer, heading in a long free kick from Ness.
Tech (6-6-1) got two goals from David Kenney, two from Mike Eagle, and one from Kris Klaverkamp.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a six-to-five game before,” said Tiger coach Nantha Viswanathan. “It was a good game. Kids played hard on both teams.”
The Elks had sophomore forward Joey Benz in goal, with Cody Christ out for the year after suffering a facial injury in a collision last week. Benz is lightning quick but not very tall, and had been playing very well at forward.
“A lot of those shots would have gone in even if we had Cody,” said Olson. Tech has a really good offense, really fast. Joey did a good job.”