After falling behind in the second half, St. Thomas Academy rallied with four consecutive goals Tuesday to keep its two-peat dreams alive in a 4-1 victory over St. Paul Harding.
After a scoreless first half, St. Paul Harding's Sekou Swaray scored from 15 yards out. But the Cadets came back with goals by four players. They seemingly sealed the outcome when Alex Tsobanakis scored on a penalty shot for a 3-1 lead in the state quarterfinal game at Prior Lake High School.
"That is the way we are," Cadets coach Noel Quinn said of his quick scoring offense. "I am glad after they scored that we did not panic."
Logan Davis tied the game with 30 minutes to play. Vernon Lovegreen scored to give the Cadets the lead before Tsobanakis and Amanuel Bird finished the scoring.
Things got away from the Knights quickly after Davis' tying strike.
The Knights (10-7-3), playing in their first soccer state tournament, tried to rally late and had a few chances but couldn't score again.
St. Thomas Academy (15-1-3) will play Austin at 2 p.m. in the semifinals on Monday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"We are better than last year," Quinn said. " Last year we grinded and this year we have a lot of goal scorers and are still sound defensively"
Austin 3, Bemidji 2: The game was tied 2-2 in overtime, with both teams seeking a first soccer state tournament victory in program history, when the Lumberjacks were whistled for a foul. It set up a Packers free kick from 25 yards out.
Austin captain Samuel Bailey immediately started flailing his arms in the air, in anticipation of victory.
Lonyjera Okal was set to kick. The senior had already scored on a similar free kick earlier in the game for his 26th goal of the season. From straight on, Okal fired a liner over Bemidji's wall of defenders and through sophomore goalie Jedidiah Bitter's hands for the victory.
"He has been taking free kicks all year for us," said Bailey, a senior. "I think he has four or five goals on only eight shots."
Okal's game-winning kick dropped Bitter to his knees. His Bemidji teammates comforted him immediately. Without the goalkeeper's performance, especially his four saves in the first half, the game never would have reached extra time.
Bitter was thrust into action just five minutes into the game when starting goalkeeper Adam Laakso left with a lower leg injury.
The Lumberjacks took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Ben Hess in the first half and then held the Big Nine Conference's highest-scoring offense scoreless to the intermission. But the Packers (18-0-2) scored netted two goals in the 46th minute, first on Okal's free kick and then a goal by Mooday Wah to secure a 2-1 lead.
With seven minutes left, the Lumberjacks (16-3-2) tied the game off a corner kick on a goal by John Chadwick. That set the stage for overtime and Okal's second free-kick goal.
"It is his technical ability combined with his maturity," Austin coach Jens Levisen said of Okal. "With that comes the confidence to take those shots."