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Greyhounds topple Superior with 0:15 left for 1-0 soccer victory

Duluth East was looking for a boys soccer victory, while the Superior Spartans came to Ordean Field looking for a little respect -- from their opponents but also from themselves. Both teams got what they were looking for Wednesday afternoon.

Duluth East was looking for a boys soccer victory, while the Superior Spartans came to Ordean Field looking for a little respect -- from their opponents but also from themselves. Both teams got what they were looking for Wednesday afternoon.
The teams battled scorelessly through 80 minutes -- actually, 79 minutes and 45 seconds -- as the pesky Spartans scrapped and scrambled to hold off the relentless Greyhounds before East captured a 1-0 victory.
Ben Buchs, a freshman goaltender whose tender years may have made him blissfully unaware that he should fold under such pressure, had kept the 'Hounds at bay, despite the fact that his Spartans were being outshot 23-4.
It might have been even more lopsided in the shot count, but East coach Paul Charles prefers a system that calls for three and sometimes four players to be back behind the center line no matter how much control the Greyhounds have at the opposing goal, which may be an advantage when their foes outplay East's offense, but also leaves them shorthanded while attacking.
East had plenty of attacks against the Spartans, but Buchs repelled all of them, and the Greyhounds didn't help themselves as the game went on by taking individual turns at blasting away instead of moving the ball for better shots.
As the final minute in the second of two 40-minute halves ticked away, Buchs made his 22nd save, but as he tried to dive on it, the ball squirted away from him and went right to Nick Nelson. Not only is Nelson the captain and one of East's top midfielders, he also is a star on the East hockey team, which means he knows the value of a creative play in congested areas.
Nelson passed deftly toward the middle, and Derek Eklund, a junior midfielder and another captain, shot it into the net. The clock showed only 0:09 remaining, but that was after a little celebrating in the press box. When order was restored, the clock was reset to show 0:15 remained, meaning the goal came 15 seconds before two 5-minute overtimes would have been required.
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"The ball popped out when I landed on it wrong," said the discouraged Buchs, who couldn't even talk about all of his brilliant saves and quick moves because of the one that got away.
Nelson said: "We got a shot and their goalie caught it, but it came rolling right to me. I knew I couldn't score because he was in the way for me to have an open shot, so I passed it toward the middle. I'd rather set up a good goal than just shoot, anyway."
That statement would be a worthy posting on East's locker room wall, although coach Paul Charles said he stressed some of those issues to his lads.
"I told the guys at halftime that this game was a lot like the game we had last year with Grand Rapids, when we had a lot of chances, but they ended up getting one in and we lost 1-0," said Charles. "I told them that an 'A' for an assist goes into the book counting the same as a 'G' for goal, too, but it might have been a little carryover from our St. Francis game."
The Wednesday game against Superior came one day after East had spotted St. Francis an early goal, then roared back to romp 7-1, and all kinds of goals sailed into the net. The Spartans had no intention of going down that easily, because they had lost 2-0 to Cloquet on Tuesday and had other objectives in mind against East.
"We didn't play well against Cloquet," said Superior coach Tim Gallagher. "We knew that East was strong, and this was a game where the most important thing was for us to play well. We did that. East had a lot of chances, and it's tough for a freshman goalkeeper to face that much pressure, but Ben held us in there, and we had a couple of chances that could have won it for us."
East's Chris Johnson, only a sophomore himself, didn't have to make a lot of stops to get the shutout, but he did have a couple of late tests, as the Spartans never stopped hustling.
"Give Superior credit," Charles said. "They came off a tough game with Cloquet, and they came back and played strong all the way through the second half."

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