Kirsch

Owatonna's Zack Kirsch sprints after a loose ball on Thursday evening during the second half of a Section 1-AA quarterfinal game against Rochester John Marshall at the Owatonna Soccer Complex. Kirsch led the Huskies with four points, scoring two goals and registering two assists. (Jon Weisbrod/SouthernMinn.com)

Bob Waypa is a perfectionist, and that particular personality trait suits him well as the head coach of the Owatonna boys soccer team.

But even for someone of his disposition, it was tough to find many warts in his team's execution following Thursday’s blowout win over Rochester John Marshall in the opening round of the Section 1-AA tournament.

The Huskies simply played that well.

Grabbing and early lead before cranking up the pressure and exploding for a back-breaking three-goal stretch in the middle of the first half, second-seeded Owatonna rolled to an 8-0 victory and advances to play No. 3 Rochester Century on Tuesday night in a game that won’t be short on intrigue and emotion after the teams finished in a variable deadlock for the all-important second spot during last weekend’s seeds meeting. Ultimately, the Huskies were awarded home field advantage for the game via a coin flip and, of course, are one of just two teams to have beaten Century (9-2-1) this season.

If Owatonna (7-3-1) plays anything like it did against the Rockets (2-9-1) during next week’s semifinal showdown, the Huskies will be in good shape on their home field.

"Once we had that three-goal spurt in the first half I told the guys we can’t let up," said Waypa. “Things are going well, but we can’t sit back and say, ‘well, we’ve got this one.’ No, we have to put the foot on the gas, and we did that. We have playing for this all season and the guys came out and executed.”

Three different players — Alex Ulrich, Zack Kirsch and Nolan Burmeister — scored two goals apiece as Owatonna built a 5-0 lead at halftime, most of which came in an explosive three-minute stretch that turned a tight game, at least according to the scoreboard, into an absolute route.

“We played them earlier this season and actually I watched that game a couple hours before this one just to see some tendencies,” Waypa said. “We knew going with more diagonal balls would keep the keeper on the line and there was a spell where it was a tight game and we scored three goals really quickly. It went from one-nothing to four-nothing and they put their heads down.”

The Rockets might have put their head down, but the Huskies kept up their pressure, compiling another three goals after the break and snatching a 6-0 advantage when Ulrich blasted a shot that smashed into the back of the net with 30 minutes, 10 seconds left on the clock. The goal materialized on a free kick just outside the box on the right sideline and originally came off the foot of Lane Versteeg.

Roughly 12 minutes later Sam Sampson rocketed a shot that stuck into the upper-90 before Benny Bangs rounded out the scoring with 13:55 on the clock.

Kirsch and Versteeg registered a team-high two assists while Ulrich and Burmeister finished with three points apiece on two goals and one assist. 

AROUND THE SECTION

Owatonna and John Marshall weren’t the only Section 1-AA teams in action on Tuesday as Century defeated No. 6 Lakeville South in overtime, 2-1; No. 1 Northfield took down No. 8 Farmington, 8-0, and No. 4 Rochester Mayo defeated New Prague, 4-0.

For the first time in at least 15 years, the Section 1-AA final four will feature only teams from the Big Nine Conference.

Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on Twitter.com @OPPJonW. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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