Two opportunistic goals by Nelson Valdez helped Elk River battle a strong Blaine team to a 2-2 tie on the Bengals field Tuesday evening.
All the scoring took place in the first half, with the two squads stalemating the last 40 minutes of regulation plus two five-minute overtimes.
“It was a tough, physical game, and both teams were very tired at the end,” said Elk coach Tom Olson. “Blaine was one of the pre-season favorites in our conference, so it was good to come out of there with a tie.”
The Elks are 1-2-1 in conference and 5-2-1 overall. Blaine is 2-1-1 and 4-2-1.
Valdez scavenged for both goals. When a shot from the side by Storm Heyer went under the goalie’s hands in the fifth minute, the senior mid raced up from the other side and knocked the ball in, tying the score 1-1.
His second goal, in the 25th minute, came when Joey Benz, pinned near the net, booted the ball backward with his heel, again just past the goalie, with Valdez scurrying up to bury it once more.
Blaine tied the score 2-2 on a goal by Asher Bates in the 27th minute, and that would be the final tally of the day. Elk goalie Cody Christ made a couple of difficult saves in the second half, said Olson.
The Elks will play at Park Center on Thursday.