St. Cloud Apollo sophomore Abdiaziz Handule figured his soccer team and DeLaSalle would need overtime to decide the Class 1A title.
The game was without a shot on goal well into the second half as both teams played physical, possessed the ball well and traded control of the midfield. So after drawing a foul and resulting free kick in DeLaSalle territory, Handule sensed an important opportunity was at hand.
Teammate Leighton Lommel buried the ball from 23 yards out and the Eagles (21-0-2) went on to complete an undefeated season with a 1-0 victory.
On the free kick, Eagles’ senior Kevin Argueta moved toward the ball first but he was a decoy. Lommel, a junior, read the wall of DeLaSalle defenders and opted to shoot high, tucking the ball under the crossbar.
It proved to be the game’s only shot on goal. Lommel also scored the lone goal in the semifinals.
“I though Kevin was going to take it,” Handule said. “Next thing you know it’s in the back of the net.”
Did playing in a tight game intensify the pressure Lommel put on himself to convert a rare scoring chance?
“You try not to think about that otherwise it’s going to eat you alive,” Lommel said. “But afterward it felt incredible.”
The result felt different on the DeLaSalle bench. Senior defender Joey Farah, knocked from the game after suffering a concussion in the first half, was proud of his team’s effort to find the equalizer.
“Both teams were trying their very best but they were the better team today and deserve to win,” said Farah, a captain of the first Islanders’ team to reach the state tournament.
St. Cloud Apollo finished its season undefeated and won its first-ever Class 1A boys' soccer state title Thursday with a 1-0 victory against DeLaSalle.
Leighton Lommel's free kick goal in the second half of the game at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud held up as the game's lone goal. He also scored the only goal in the team's semifinal victory over Mankato West.
Check back later for more on the game.