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Red Wing was stunned last Friday. The winless Austin Packers got their homecoming crowd into a frenzy with a 28-0 lead in the second quarter. “It was a mixture of shock and frustration because we knew we were a lot better than what we showed,” said Wingers wide receiver Travis Toivonen. “We opened our eyes and were like, ‘We can’t play like this for the rest of the game.
During the summer, a trio of Red Wing divers enjoyed plenty of ACDC. It had nothing to do with the famed hard rock group. Instead, the Wingers’ trio of Abby Estabrooks, Emelia Olson and Riley Marty made the trek to Inver Grove Heights to learn from the Aquatic Club of Dakota County. In hoping to improve the diving team, they know it’s a long way to the top, much like the Australian rock quartet bellowed back in the 1970s.
What started as a blowout ended up as a shootout. And what looked like a certain Austin victory finished up as an improbable Red Wing comeback win on Friday night. Down 28-0 in the first half, the Wingers managed to climb out of that hole and tie the Big Southeast Blue Division game at 42-42 at the end of regulation. There, a goal-line stop and a pair of Sam Hanson rushing touchdowns helped Red Wing escape with a 56-50 double-overtime win over the Packers.
Red Wing cross-country missed out on a chance to compete against some section foes in Rochester back on Sept. 17, leaving the Wingers with 19 days between meets So what did the girls do with the rain-out? They ran. “It was kind of a bummer because we were looking forward to good competition there. But with that, (Jasmyn Armstrong) and I ran across town one day,” said senior Kianna Stewart. “We started at the high school and ran to Burnside (Elementary School).”
Amir Sutherlin’s name and number 90 aren’t on the Red Wing varsity roster. But with the way the freshman nose tackle has come on the last two weeks, Sutherlin’s a name that hopes to anchor the Wingers’ defensive line for years to come. With the line dealing with a rash of injuries, Red Wing was looking for any help to shore up the middle of the line. What coaches found was a hard-nosed youngster. “We gave him a look during one-on-one drills and he actually showed us that he can play,” said Wingers’ defensive coordinator Dennis Lee.
Whether you measure it by goals or wins, success has been a long time coming for Red Wing boys soccer. Coming away with a 2-0 victory over Section 1A foe Kasson-Mantorville Tuesday at Russ “Cougar” Marshall Field, the Wingers snapped an eight-game winless streak, winning their first game since Sept. 3. “Yeah, it has been (a long time coming),” Red Wing head coach Tony Casci said with a laugh. “We’re thrilled with the victory.”
Through two quarters, Red Wing looked like it had an upset brewing. Facing defending Class 5A state champions Mankato West, the Wingers’ offense was able to keep up with the Scarlets as Red Wing trailed 14-12 at halftime. “We were a little bit shocked, to be honest,” said Wingers’ linebacker Seth Morem. “We just told ourselves that the past few years people didn’t look at us to even compete with Mankato West. And here we were, two points down. You have to give it to everyone on our team. They did their jobs.”
Both Red Wing and Austin needed some momentum in their favor. Prior to Thursday’s Big Nine Conference matchup both the Wingers and Packers had lost three straight conference matches. Early on, Red Wing managed to grab the momentum. But before halftime, the Packers swung the pendulum in their favor with two goals in a five-minute span. Ultimately that pair of goals was enough for Austin to end their skid with a 2-1 victory at Russ “Cougar” Marshall Field.
Facing a one-loss team like Rochester Century is daunting enough. But with two starters out with concussions, Red Wing had a tough road to trek. With McKenzie Cota and Sarah O’Keefe on the bench, the Wingers struggled to adjust in the first two sets and the Panthers won with relative ease. But in the third, Red Wing finally got in a groove, overcoming a five-point deficit to avoid the sweep.
Red Wing’s defense had plenty to worry about with Mankato West in town Tuesday. The Wingers had to try to slow down the Big Nine Conference’s top-scoring team, led by junior Jake Maleka, who ranks in the top 10 statewide in goals. And for a while, Red Wing managed to keep the Scarlets in check.