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Prep boys state soccer: Duluth East championship bid ends on ‘one in a million shot’

The Greyhounds dominated possession in the second half, but were unable to get a clean look to tie the game against Rosemount.

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Kai Hoffman (11) of Duluth East heads the ball past Rosemount goalkeeper Leyton Simmering (00) during the Class AAA state semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — Despite not allowing a shot on goal in the second half, two goals allowed by Duluth East in the first 20 minutes of play were enough to give Rosemount a 2-1 victory over the Greyhounds in the Minnesota Class AAA boys soccer semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The Greyhounds dominated possession, particularly in the second half, but the Irish were able to take advantage of their early opportunities to end the Greyhounds' shot at a state championship.

“We were able to get players in behind their defense,” Rosemount coach Todd Farrington said. “We were able to spread them apart, which creates more space in the middle of the field.”

Irish forward Dante Shannon was the first to get behind the Greyhound defense and get a shot past Duluth East goalkeeper Elijah Kramer in the 11th minute.

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Kai Hoffman (11) of Duluth East is fouled by Aiden Phou (10) of Rosemount during the Class AAA state semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Kai Hoffman tied the game less than 3 minutes later off a free kick, but Isaac Lewis gave the Irish the lead for good when he was able to score from the open midfield space Rosemount created.

“We got them spread out a little bit,” Farrington said. “Isaac was able to settle the ball and that was an unbelievable shot — I mean that was just fantastic.”

Duluth East coach Corey Bachand said he thought Hoffman’s goal would settle his team down and they would be able to take control, but though they had opportunities, clean looks at the Rosemount goal were hard to come by.

“The best look I had hit the post earlier in the first half,” Greyhound senior Jackson DesCombaz said. “Besides Kai’s free kick, that might have been the best look we had the whole game.”

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Jackson DesCombaz (10) of Duluth East reacts after losing to Rosemount 2-1 during the Class AAA state semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Bachand said the team practiced well after its win over Moorhead Oct. 27, but thought they were “nervous” when they took the field.

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“The boys played loose the last couple days of practice and I felt like we were ready to play,” Bachand said. “The boys had to get that calmness back and play with it. When they came out and scored and then we tied it, I thought the game was back in our control. Then they got that one shot — it was one in a million.”

DesCombaz said the Greyhounds had trouble on 50/50 balls all day and Rosemount goalkeeper Leyton Simmering also presented a problem for the team as well.

“I think with goal kicks and 50/50 balls in the air, we were struggling and misreading them,” DesCombaz said. “The goalie had a huge leg — he was able to boot it 70 yards, which was a problem for us. Normally, we can use that, but in the offensive third, we just had nothing building together.”

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David Wallerstein (6) of Duluth East and Brady Thongvanh (3) of Rosemount chase the ball during the Class AAA state semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Rosemount snapped a 16-game win streak for Duluth East (18-2-1), but DesCombaz is already thinking about the Greyhounds’ next game.

“It’s been an amazing year, everything all the way to the playoffs was great,” he said. “We really thought we had it, but we’re still playing for third place. ... We’ll go out, give it out best effort and try to get a medal.”

Rosemount goes on to play fourth-seeded Mounds View in the state championship game on Saturday morning, while East meets Rochester Mayo in a third-place game Thursday morning (9:30 a.m.) at the West St. Paul Athletics Center.

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Evan Tomczyk (7) of Duluth East controls the ball near Aiden Phou (10) of Rosemount during the Class AAA state semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Rosemount 2-0—2

Duluth East 1-0—1

First half scoring — 1. R, Dante Shannon (Evan Sickman), 11th; 2. DE, Kai Hoffman, 14th; 3. R, Isaac Lewis (Reid Wolf), 18th;

Second half scoring — No scoring.

Saves — Leyton Simmering, R, 6; Elijah Kramer, DE, 2.

Related Topics: SOCCERBOYS SOCCER
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