by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A shootout loss to Anoka ended the Elk River-Zimmerman boys soccer season on Saturday along with the career of longtime coach Tom Olson.
The Elks forced overtime by scoring with 5:51 left to knot the score 1-1 in the Section 8AA semifinal at home. After two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods in which neither team threatened, the Tornadoes won the shootout 5-4, and officially won the game 2-1.
This was the Elks first shootout but otherwise the game was typical of an 8-8-2 season.
“The boys competed every game,” said Olson. “We played five top-ten ranked teams. There was only one game where we lost by more than one goal.”
Anoka, he noted, has been “playing really well lately with a lot of shutouts.”
The Tornadoes (8-9-10 have given up just three goals in their last six games. They will play at top-seeded Moorhead (13-2-1) in the finals on Tuesday.
It was the last game of a 20-year career for Olson, who has notified the school he’s resigning from coaching now that his daughter, a Rogers freshman, is heading into the varsity level and he wants to watch her play.
“It was tough, really tough,” said Olson about the realization this was the last game. “In your last year you are always hoping the season keeps going.”
In recent seasons he has been co-head coach with Aaron Lindquist, who’ll be among the applicants for the job.
Anoka scored in the 37th minute when Roland Oyou tapped in a rebound after a teammate’s shot hit the inside of the post and caromed past Elk goalie Cody Christ.
The Elks trailed 1-0 until 5:51 left when Nelson Valdez scored with his face. With a bevy of Elks rushing the net, a shot by Grant Tesdahl smacked Valdez in his mug and the ball wound up in the the goal. Tesdahl got the assist.
“I didn’t even know it was Nelson until he came back to the bench and said his face was all numb,” said Olson.
In the two 10-minute overtimes, play was mostly confined to midfield, leaving the Elks in a semifinal shootout for the second straight year. (They lost at STMA last year).
With the odds heavily stacked in favor of the shooter in soccer OT’s, kicking into a 24-foot wide net from 12 yards away, Anoka made all five shots, with Elk goalie Christ getting some skin on four of them but unable to re-direct them.
The Elks made four of five. Joey Benz, Storm Heyer and Jordan Vasseur made theirs. Jake Holbrook didn’t as the Anoka goalie was able to knock it away, lunging to his left. Grant Tesdahl made his shot, leaving it up to Anoka’s last guy, who drilled one against the post and into the net.
The Tornadoes also beat the Elks 2-1 on Sept. 4.
Reflecting on the .500 season, Olson said it was difficult to regenerate the offense after graduating two longtime scoring threats (Ryan Ness and Kyle Orrock), especially after losing Storm Heyer, their top scorer at the time with five goals, for seven games. Heyer didn’t return until sectionals. But as he said, the team was in every game.
In the last 15 minutes of regular plus overtime, the Elks were missing their defensive anchor, Josh Chuba, who took a jolt to the head when he was bumped to the ground and struck the knee of his goalie.
Chuba, who had to end his career woozy on the bench, was one of 11 Elks bowing out, along with Valdez, Mitch Peterzen, Mickey Sanders, Jeremy Carlson, Jake Salem, Jake Holbrook, Jordan Vasseur, Odrey Bechtel, Ben Waletzko and Nick Bandescu.