Minnetonka’s goalkeeper Luca Vereecken makes a diving save in the second half of Saturday's game against Prior Lake. The Skippers went on to beat the Lakers 1-0. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
Minnetonka senior Niko Zbilic looks for an open teammate near the net late in the first half of Saturday's match against Prior Lake. The Skippers went on to win at home 1-0. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
Minnetonka picked up its eighth win of the season on Saturday afternoon, and that success came because of its defense, which is something Skippers coach Mike Rogers has become enamored with.
“This is by far the finest defensive core I’ve ever had, and maybe in the history of the school,” Rogers said after his team’s 1-0 home win over Prior Lake.
Those were strong words coming from Rogers, but his statement seemed justified: Saturday’s game marked the Skippers’ 10th shutout this season, and they’ve only allowed five goals all year. Rogers was impressed once again by his team’s backline effort against the Lakers (8-2-5, 5-0-3).
Two of the best teams in Class 2A squared off in a possible Section 2 playoff preview on Saturday, with Minnetonka defeating Prior Lake 1-0.
The first half was energetic, with the Skippers (8-1-4, 2-1-2) and Lakers (8-2-5, 5-0-3) aggressively fighting for possession. The teams went into the halftime break scoreless, although it looked like Minnetonka’s Niko Zbilic had the opening goal 15 minutes in. Teammate Dylan Olson played in a perfect cross from the right wing and Zbilic connected with it, sending a headed attempt on goal. However, the ball rattled off the crossbar and fell straight down, out of the goal.
Zbilic scored the game winner 8 minutes into the second half. The Skippers, ranked No. 4 in the Class 2A coaches’ poll, finished a nice play when Sergio Rivas played in a simple pass to Zbilic, who shot first time from about 5 yards out. The No. 8-2A Lakers’ keeper Michael Phelan was able to get a hand on it, but the shot went into the net for what would be the winning goal.
The Skippers’ defense proved stout throughout the game, picking up their 10th shutout of the season.
Prior Lake’s Michael Nelson puts a move on the Skippers' Niko Zbilic, stealing the ball midway through the first half while playing on the road in Minnetonka. The Lakers lost to the Skippers 1-0. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
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