Blake forward Haluk Ercan-Fang battles Orono defender Nick Overturf Thursday at Orono High School. Ercan-Fang scored two goals in the Bears' 3-2 victory over the Spartans. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Every day after practice, Blake takes penalty shots to prepare for in-game situations.
Senior Ethan Roe was successful converting from 12 yards out during the week, leading to coach Tamba Johnson telling the co-captain he could take a penalty kick prior to Thursday’s game against Orono.
But when the time came, fellow co-captain and leading scorer Haluk Ercan-Fang stepped up and found the net for the game’s opening goal in the second half.
“Haluk was having a day, so I wasn’t going to get in front of him,” Roe said. “He scored. That’s all that matters.”
Roe didn’t think twice about Ercan-Fang’s eagerness to take the penalty shot and fed his teammate for a game-winning goal with under seven minutes left in regulation of the Bears’ 3-2 win over the Spartans at Orono High School.
Blake entered the season outside of the top 10 in the Class 1A coaches’ preseason poll, despite making it to last year's state tournament semifinals, where it fell to eventual champion St. Thomas Academy.
“We were kind of mad about that. It put a chip on our shoulder,” Ercan-Fang said, adding that beating No. 6-1A Orono, which was the No. 1 team in the preseason poll, is payoff for the 15 returning players who felt snubbed at the beginning of the season.
Roe’s goal embodied the team’s chemistry that they’ve developed over the season. Luke Melin lifted a long-distance cross to the far-side post, where Roe headed the ball to the back of the net to give his team a two-goal lead.
“Ever since that day, we’ve all been working our tails off to prove ourselves this year,” Roe said. “We have high expectations and we hope to feed those expectations and not let ourselves down.”
Now the top team in the Class 1A poll, the Bears (12-0-2, 4-0-1) are unbeaten with one game left in the regular season, a matchup against Southwest Christian on Saturday.
“We’ve been a team that hasn’t quit,” Johnson said. “We always harp on [staying undefeated], but we’re playing for something much bigger.”
That something would be Blake’s first state title in 10 years. For that to happen, the Bears will have to continue to refuse facing defeat, a task they executed when the Spartans (11-2-2, 6-0-1) scored twice and tied the game Friday.
Johnson commended Orono for coming back from a 2-0 deficit, but has groomed his players to trust in each other when times become tense.
“Our coach, Tamba (Johnson), preaches it everyday: We play as a family, we play for each other and we play hard,” Ercan-Fang said.
Blake senior Ethan Roe dribbles the ball up field against Orono Thursday night. Roe scored the Bears' second goal in their 3-2 win over the Spartans. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Haluk Ercan-Fang found the net for a second time in the 73rd minute of action to clinch Blake a 3-2 win over the Spartans on Thursday night at Orono High School. Ercan-Fang scored off a feed from teammate Ethan Roe, who had the Bears’ other goal.
Ranked the top team in Class 1A, Blake (12-0-2, 4-0-1) remains unbeaten entering its final regular season game against Southwest Christian on Saturday.
Ercan-Fang netted the game’s opening goal early in the second half off a penalty kick. Less than two minutes later, Roe scored with his head off a cross from Luke Melin, giving Blake a two-goal lead.
But the Spartans stormed back a minute, 26 seconds later when Sam Bazil tracked down Christian Babo’s free kick and headed the ball past Blake goalkeeper Will Taylor. Guyvenson Mohs leveled the score after finding a free lane and launching a shot that found the top netting at the 54-minute mark.
Taylor stopped one shot for the Bears, while Jackson Burgess made four saves for No. 6-1A Orono (11-2-2, 6-0-1).
Orono senior Guyvenson Mohs battles Blake sophomore Howard Henderson for the ball Thursday at Orono. Mohs scored the Spartan's second goal in the 3-2 loss to the Bears. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
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