Eagle boys play for state berth on Wednesday

NEW ULM – Maybe it was just coincidence that following Jon Kopacek’s game-winning goal in overtime Saturday night against Willmar in a Section 3A semi-final game, that when the Eagles were going into the locker room that the PA system at Don Roberts Arena at Gustavus Adolphus College began playing Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Belief was all that the New Ulm players had to go on – belief in themselves and belief in each other -after they got down 3-0 to Willmar in a period that saw the Eagles and Willmar even with shots on goal with nine each.

“We did everything we could to come out on top,” Kopacek said.

And that included overcoming an early three-goal deficit and then a 4-3 Cardinals lead in the third period when sometimes the stick can get squeezed a little to hard in crunch time.

Coach Erik Setterholm said that the key to the win was getting the puck to the net.

“We just had to get the puck to the net,” he said. “The three goals that Willmar scored in the first period, they did not put any pressure on us. They just some good bounces and made the most ot it.”

Setterholm then saw his team stage perhaps the biggest comeback by a New Ulm hockey team ever in a sectional tournament.

“I can’t even say what it felt like,” Setterholm said following the win.

New Ulm now gets unbeaten Luverne (24-0-1) Wednesday night.

This is a game that will not be easy for the Eagles. Luverne comes in as the most dominating team in the section.

New Ulm can’t afford to fall behind in this game by three goals and expect to earn a state tournament trip. This is a match-up where all the pressure is on Luverne coming in unbeaten. It is going to take a super effort by New Ulm to win.

HOUNDS SEE SEASON END: The New Ulm Cathedral boy’s basketball team saw its season end with a 10-point loss to Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Saturday night.

“The kids played hard,” coach Alan Woitas said. “We just had a tough night shooting the ball. We were 15-of-48 from the field and it is tough to win a lot of games when you shoot like that.”

Woitas said that his team did not fall behind early.

“We had a lead early but then they went on a run towards the end of the first half. It was a two-point game at halftime.”

This is a young Cathedral team with no seniors and will also get back two players – Gabe Knowles and Brandon Beranek – who were injured most of this season.

“We got better as the year went along even though it did not show up in the win column,” Woitas said. “I am happy with the progress. Getting Knowles and Beranek back will help. I am excited about this squad for next year.”

CHARGERS GET HOME WIN: Minnesota Valley Lutheran earned a meeting Tuesday at Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s with a dominating 68-51 win over Cleveland in a Section 2A game.

“I was happy with the effort that the kids gave,” Chargers coach Craig Morgan said. “We got the lead and never gave it back. Chad (Lease) really went to the boards hard early and that helped springboard us forward with his aggressiveness on the glass and going to the basket really helped us out.”

Defensively, the Chargers held Cleveland to 20 points in the second half.

Morgan liked the play of Eric Westphal and Jacob Hoffman.

“Josh Wong (a sophomore) has been running the point guard spot and has done a good job there,” Morgan said. “He has taken charge of that since our Cathedral game and it has been a nice transition for him. That has also allowed us to take Josh Koelpin and put him out on a wing where he has a nice 3-point shot. And the same with Nate Wong – he can also go out on the wing.’

Now MVL plays Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s.

“We got hurt last time with the defensive rebounds – they went to the offensive glass really well and we did not rebound well. We need to limit them to one shot.”

LOCAL STUFF; Kevin Larson (New Ulm Cathedral) is fifth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in assists with 95 (3.80 per game for the University of Minnesota-Crookston. He has started all 25 games. Larson and UMC will play Minnesota State-Mankato at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Taylor Center… Nick Simon (New Ulm Cathedral) was named Fall Academic All-Conference in football for St. John’s… Zach Hoffmann (New Ulm High School) hit two home runs for St. Cloud State Saturday against Arkansas Tech in Russellville, Ark. Hoffmann is 3-for-8 in two St. Cloud games with four RBI. He has a slugging percentage of 1.250… Kyle Fischer (New Ulm High School) is 1-0 for St. Cloud State. He has six strikeouts in seven innings.

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