The State awaits you! Boys’ WHS soccer team shuts out New Prague, secures 2022 State Tournament berth – Reuters
NEW PRAGUE – State bound – again! Worthington High School’s boys’ high school football team earned its second consecutive berth in a state tournament on Tuesday night, beating New Prague 2-0 at New Prague Field in the Section 2AA Finals.
Worthington, who also played in the state tournament in 2017, 2018 and 2021, got two goals from junior midfielder Jose Chavez – one each in the first and second halves – to advance to the state tournament. 2022. WHS goalkeepers Eduardo Dominguez in the first half and Osmin Pineda in the second half did solid work in the net. Worthingtonians, as usual, employing solid team play and their typical tireless speed, held New Prague at bay in their comeback effort.
Every place in a state tournament is special. But head coach Juan Flores said there was wonderful satisfaction in this one.
“This one is super special. Like I said before, at the start of the year I just wanted us to be competitive, just to compete with other teams and improve every day,” he said. “I’m beyond proud of this team, this squad, these coaches and everyone else.”
(THIS STORY WILL BE UPDATED WITH PHOTOS)
Flores said his side were energized throughout the game with New Prague and fully ready to play.
“You could feel it. Kind of like I told the boys, I was a lot more nervous in the games in the other sections,” he said.
Worthington will compete in the first round of the state’s Class AA tournament against an as yet unknown opponent next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at a location yet to be determined. The semi-finals will take place on November 1 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The third-place game is Nov. 2 at West St. Paul Regional Athletics Center, and the championship game is Nov. 4 at US Bank Stadium.
Tuesday’s sectional championship pitted two teams with the Trojans nickname against each other. Ironically, New Prague had the home advantage despite being the No. 2 seed (the venue for the final was decided before the tournament started) and Worthington came on as the seed serial number 1.
In a regular season game in late August, Worthington defeated New Prague 2-0 at New Prague.
With the win, Worthington heads into state tournament competition with a 17-2 record. New Prague, which faced several Class AAA teams in the regular season, ends its 2022 season at 8-8-3.
New Prague, a very athletic team like Worthington, gave it their all on Tuesday, actually scoring the first goal in the net despite being disallowed in the first half with an offside penalty. Midway through the first half, the host team had two more excellent chances although no goals were scored.
Meanwhile, Worthington also had his chances. Banyon Echeverria saw a good chance turn bad, and Jonathan Banegas saw his hopeful attempt stopped on a fine play by goalkeeper Sean Christenson. Charles Saydee had perhaps Worthington’s best chance, so far, of bouncing on top of the net.
Finally, with 7:01 left in the half, Chevez completed his shot, with an assist from Banegas.
In the second half as in the first, both teams played with passion. In the first 15 minutes, New Prague attempted a few free-kicks, but they were too far from Worthington’s goal to succeed. Another New Prague corner kick was then pushed back with just over 24 minutes remaining. And at 8:35 p.m., Pineda made an impressive diving save.
Chavez scored his second goal of the match, with another assist from Banegas, at 15:20. Worthington’s defense took over from there.
Both goals were combination plays – like a back and forth.
“Jose just took a touch and just finished on both,” Flores said. “Those are great passes from Jonathan as well.”
Worthington opened the 2022 season after graduating 16 seniors from the 2021 squad. The Trojans’ latest state tournament trip is a testament to the team’s coaches and players, who have continued to set the mark since the first regular season day. Worthington’s only two losses were consecutive 2-1 on the road against Marshall and Holy Angels on September 27 and October 1.
“I just have to say one more thing,” Flores concluded. “Not bad for a year of reconstruction!”
In 2021, WHS were stunned in their state tournament opener by Willmar after two scoreless overtimes in a shootout. Worthington also lost their state tournament first-round games 3-2 to Orono in 2017 and Holy Angels 2-0 in 2018.
Worthington 1 1 — 2
New Prague 0 0 — 0