Waconia teammates swarm around senior Michael Bortz (fourth from left) after his goal in the game's closing seconds. Waconia rallied to tie Orono 1-1. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Orono's Jamie Bazil (9) sprints away from Waconia defender Christopher Nichols after winning a battle for the ball in the second half. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
A cool breeze was in the air at Orono High School Thursday evening with temperatures dropping into the 40s while masked up fans who were socially distant watched on. When it came to the match on the field, however, a different story was unfolding: One that wasn’t so chilly.
Waconia and Orono battled for 80 minutes with tough physical play and lots of talk. It all ended with a last-minute goal from Waconia senior Michael Bortz which resulted in a 1-1 tie that had the Wright County Conference rivals leaving the field with different attitudes.
There was extra motivation for Waconia (2-0-1, 2-0-1) during the match given Orono’s recent success, which includes a berth in last year’s Class 1A state tournament, and the most recent meeting between the rivals in 2019 that resulted in the Spartans visiting Waconia and handing the Wildcats their only loss of the regular season.
“We leave it on the field,” said Waconia coach Ty Seim. “Orono is the standard — we respect them.”
Waconia gave Orono its first and only score via an own goal in the first half of Thursday’s match. The Wildcats (2-0-1, 2-0-1) finally got a goal of their own as Michael Bortz tied the match at 1 in the game’s final minute as the Wright County Conference rivals played to a 1-1 draw at Orono High School.
The Spartans (1-1-2, 1-0-2) didn’t have to work hard to earn their one tally. Waconia senior goalkeeper Lucas Razidlo ran into one of his teammates as they both tried to stop the ball. They failed, however, with the ball rolling past them and into the net.
Besides that gaffe, Razidlo successfully slowed a ferocious attack from Orono, ranked No. 6 in the Class 1A coaches’ poll, to finish with 12 saves.
Orono senior keeper Hadley Stephenson had to stop all of two shots from the No. 8-1A Wildcats in the first half. Things slowly got more difficult for Stephenson, however, and he stopped two more shots before surrendering Bortz’s equalizer.
When the final buzzer sounded, there was plenty of animosity on both sides after 80 minutes of highly physical play that included plenty of heated exchanges and one red card that sent Orono’s Fin Rohrer off late in the second half.
Waconia's Wallace Wisniewski and Orono's Aiden Ecker (6) keep their eyes on the ball in the second half. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
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