Duluth East senior David Wallerstein scored twice to lift his team to a 3-0 win over Centennial Tuesday to win the Section 7AAA at Ordean Stadium in Duluth.
The Greyhounds turned in a dominating performance to advance to the state tournament next week, keeping the ball on the Cougars’ side of the field for more than 80% of the match.
Wallerstein’s first goal came in the 20th minute, as he took a pass from Aiden Olson and put it past Centennial goalkeeper Isaac Verke.
Kai Hoffman’s goal on a penalty kick gave Duluth East a 2-0 lead at halftime. Wallerstein’s second goal came off a header from Hoffman by the front post midway through the second half.
“Kai’s super good at getting his head on it and getting it back in the box,” Wallerstein said. “I was just there waiting behind him. I saw it go up in the air and it was just scrappy work from there.”
The victory was particularly sweet for the Greyhounds after Centennial ended their season in the section tournament each of the last two years, including a 3-0 shutout last season at Ordean Stadium. Wallerstein said last year’s experience was motivation for Duluth East to come out strong.
“Right off the bat, everybody wanted this game so badly,” he said. “We did not want this team coming into our home and taking it away from us again.”
The Greyhound offense kept the ball on Centennial’s side of the field so much, Greyhound goalkeeper Elijah Kramer needed to make only one save to preserve the shutout.
“Centennial didn’t really have any attacks, so it was really easy for us to continue to just pound them down low,” Duluth East coach Corey Bachand said. “Then I went with two forwards and they really didn’t have anybody to cover us, so it was nice to keep that pressure on the whole game.”
The Greyhounds (17-1-1) are heading into the state tournament as one of the hottest teams in Minnesota. They’ve won 15 straight games since a 1-1 tie with Minneapolis Washburn Sept. 4 and have allowed more than 1 goal just four times this season. They’ve also recorded eight shutouts during the win streak, including all three section tournament games.
“We are the best team in the state,” Bachand said. “A lot of times we play good enough to beat our opponent and every time we play a better opponent, we just get better and better and better.”
Bachand said he hopes to be one of the top three seeds in the tournament. Just one win is needed to get to the semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“We should be playing the low seed in the first game, not that we’re taking that any less seriously,” Wallerstein said. “But one more and we’re in the Bank, which is where I want to be.”
Duluth East 2-1—3
First half — 1. DE, David Wallerstein (Aiden Olson), 20th; 2. DE, Kai Hoffman, 38th (pk).
Second half — 3. Wallerstein (Hoffman), 58th.
Saves — Isaac Verke, C, 7; Elijah Kramer, DE, 1.