The Park Wolfpack defeated the Minnetonka Skippers 1-0 in the final minutes of the Class 3A State Tournament quarterfinal game on Tuesday night.
Defense and conservative strategies dominated most of the game. Both teams had a few shots on goal in the first half, but the game went into the break with no points. Mother Nature provided a steady drizzle most of the night, making standing and catching the ball more difficult than usual.
The second half was characterized by stronger defense, both teams were only a few meters away from the decision, but could not score a goal.
The tense stalemate was finally broken in the 74th minute when Wolfpack senior Brayden Kortus scored a header from a corner. From then on, with just five minutes left to play, Park tightened his defense and played it safe with a one-goal lead.
The victory for the wolf pack is the second part of their Cinderella story. The unseeded team started the state tournament with an upset win last week. Tuesday’s win over Minnetonka is an even bigger upset since the Skippers finished third in the tournament.
“It’s a whirlwind right now,” Park head coach Andrew Bourgoine said. “This is probably one of the best, if not the best, teams we’ve played all year. We played just great today. Our strategy against Rosemount was to dig deep in defense and try to go on offense when we can. And as soon as we get set pieces, we take our chances, and we did that again tonight.”
When asked about the next round, Bourgoine said the team is already doing what it needs to do.
“I think we’re playing with house money right now,” he said. “We’re going to US Bank Stadium and that’s super exciting. Now it’s basically just about playing how (we) play. I mean, we’re one of the top four teams. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Minnetonka head coach Mike Rogers congratulated his team on a successful season, but it didn’t end the way they wanted.
“The guys played hard, it just wasn’t our night,” Rogers said. “We had a great season. We just really thought we were going to continue tonight. I’m not really ready to say much, I’m just trying to ease the pain at the moment.”
Park will face the winner of the game between second-seeded Maple Grove and unseeded Andover on Thursday.