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Laklia scores twice to lead Hill-Murray past Columbia Heights in the Class 2A, Section 4 final

By Luke Hanlon, SportsEngine, 10/18/22, 3:45PM CDT


Jeronimo Laklia tallied both goals in the 2-1 victory to keep the Pioneers' undefeated season alive.

Hill-Murray's Jacob Dinzeo celebrated his second-half assist on Jeronimo Laklia's game-winning goal in the Pioneers' 2-1 victory over Columbia Heights. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

For the fifth consecutive year, Hill-Murray made it to the section final. The past four years, the Pioneers fell short of a section championship. On Tuesday night they bucked that trend, defeating Columbia Heights 2-1 to take the Class 2A, Section 4 championship and make it to the state tournament for the first time since 2013. 

Hill-Murray head coach Jeff Zupfer had a simple message for his team before the section final game to help bring them out of their four-year slump. 

“Every two weeks we’ve kind of put together a progress goal and on the board tonight our message was ‘performance equals results equals getting to play together for another week’,” Zupfer said.

Hill-Murray's Ryan O'Connor (20) got his pass past Columbia Heights goalkeeper Mark Agudo Medina (0). The result was a goal for Jeronimo Laklia and a 1-0 lead for the Pioneers. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

First report

Hill-Murray is moving on to the Class 2A state tournament after winning the Section 4 championship game with a 2-1 victory against Columbia Heights on Tuesday night. 

The Pioneers (19-0-0, 8-0-0) got on the board first thanks to Jeronimo Laklia only minutes after he first hit the post. A long ball was played into a dangerous area in the box and it got deflected to Laklia’s feet. He buried the ball into an open net to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead.

The Pioneers got close to doubling their lead later in the second half. After a foul was called just outside of the box, Taylor Petrich hit a screamer off a free kick that blasted off the crossbar. 

The Pioneers did extend their lead less than two minutes into the second half. Jacob Denzio beat a defender with his speed and strength and got a shot off from a tight angle. His shot was saved, but he regained control of the rebound and centered the ball to Laklia, who tucked away his second goal. 

The Hylanders (13-2-0, 7-1-0) answered back less than six minutes later as Deivis Cabrera Bunay scored after the ball leaked through a crowd of bodies from a free kick sent into the box by Jason Carpio. 

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