Packer soccer team headed to Section 1A final after beating Byron

By Rocky Hulne | Austin Daily Herald

Originally published 10:54 p.m., October 19, 2009

The opportunities piled up for the Austin soccer team and it made good on those chances with a 4-1 win over Byron in a Section 1A semifinal match at Art Hass Stadium Monday.

The Packers (13-5 overall) took the lead for good in the match’s 64th minute when Jacob Brehmer scored on a feed from fellow senior Martin Manocchio to give Austin a 2-1 lead.

“Marty gave me a nice pass right in the middle and it was to my left, which is my off foot,” said Brehmer. “But I figured I better one-time it, so it didn’t take too much time. I hit it, and luckily I placed it right in the corner.”

AK goal 10.19.09Austin put the game away when Alex Klock forced a turnover and scored in the 76th minute on a breakaway and Manocchio, who scored Austin’s first goal on a pass from Jacob Larson, scored on an assist from Brehmer to make it 4-1 in the 79th minute.

Austin, which will now play No. 1 Rochester Lourdes (14-4-2 overall) for the Section 1A title at Rochester Community and Technical College Friday at 5 p.m., trailed 1-0 after Byron’s Ryan Baumbach scored on a crossing pass in the 28th minute.

But the Packers never doubted themselves and Mannachio tied the match a minute and a half later.

“(Getting behind) didn’t hurt us at all,” Austin defender Howie Underwood said. “We’ve kind of been that team to come back after a goal and win. I think it helps us and makes us work harder.”

Underwood, a senior, was part of a defense that dominated possession, which caused the Packers to out-shoot No. 3 Byron (19-2 overall) 28-5.

“The defense was prepared and they knew what to expect with this Byron team,” Austin head coach Jens Levisen said. “Everybody was winning the ball in the air before they had a chance to do anything with it, but our defense doesn’t just clear it. They get it and they look to see who they can get it to.”

Austin missed a chance to take the lead with 4:31 left in the first half when Francisco Torres had a penalty kick stopped by Byron’s Brock Anderson. It was the first time the Packers have missed a penalty kick all season.

“I’m kind of glad that we got the goals the other way,” Levisen said. “So that way they can’t say, ‘you got a PK and that’s how you beat us.’ We’ve got four real goals.”

Anderson made a few big saves to keep the Bears in it. He stopped a point blank shot by Brehmer in the first half, and made back-to-back saves on Brehmer and Will Darling in the second half.

“Our offense has scored all year and we have a lot of talented players. We were bound to score goals if we kept playing good,” Brehmer said.

Keeper Ryan Rasell, who had four stops on the night, made two big back-to-back saves for Austin with 33:58 left in the match.

When Austin takes on Lourdes Friday with a trip to the state tournament on the line, it will be the first time the Packers have ever played in the Section 1A title game.

“We’re pumped up and it would be great to have a group of fans come with,” Levisen said. “It’s very exciting and we’ll have three days of solid practice to make sure we’re ready.”