BAXTER — It required nearly 89 minutes but it was worth the wait.
Senior midfielder Josh Wasniewski ended a nil-nil struggle between Brainerd and Sauk Rapids with an overtime goal at 88:41 to give the Warriors a 1-0 victory over the Storm on Tuesday at Southdale Field.
The victory snapped Brainerd’s 6-game losing streak and gave the Warriors their fourth win of the season, double their total of last year.
“This game’s all about momentum,” Wasniewski said. “Six games in a row losing you’re going up a hill. It was an uphill climb. Winning that game gives you hope, gives you momentum. You can go into the next game saying ‘This is what we’ve done, here’s what we can do, lets go get it.’”
Warriors coach Tony Smith said it was a “nerve-wracking” win and a “relief” to end the 6-game slide, during which Brainerd was outscored 14-4.
“I could definitely sense the boys were feeling like this was our victory,” Smith said. “I’m glad the pieces finally figured themselves out and we were able to put it in the goal. They worked so hard. They were determined today.
“I think senior day had a certain energy behind it, which was nice to see. I thought they played with more heart. We talked about let’s work on our first five passes, win the first 50-50 ball, let’s be the first to put a shot on net. We started to think about those little things that we could do that are going to set the tone for the whole game. I thought that’s what ultimately helped us today.”
Wasniewski got the ball from Nick Solheim, who was credited with the assist, and beat Storm keeper Ramiro Yanez-Nunez from about 20 yards out.
“It came back out from the corner, went out to the side, I’m not exactly sure who it came over from but it came over,” Wasniewski said. “I took the shot, far post, buried it. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Wasniewski’s goal was one of the few quality chances for either team as both defenses clogged the other’s offense around midfield. Isaiah Gilderman had the Warriors’ best chance but his shot ricocheted off the crossbar in the 18th minute.
Both teams finished with just five shots on net but Warriors’ keeper Joe Anderholm made at least two difficult saves. In the 27th minute, he made a diving catch of a line shot. In the 42nd minute, Anderholm made a nice stop in traffic on a header off a corner kick.
“Obviously, we were trying to get it up to our forwards but tonight they sagged a lot on their defense, which really made it harder for our forwards to have good penetrating runs,” Smith said. “Our defense played really well, they didn’t have to see it a whole lot.
“Our midfielders played really well. I thought they were patient with the ball. I think we had a very high percentage of passes made versus turnovers. I think that helped us keep our heads up. We weren’t self-defeating ourselves. Finally, we just persevered.”
Sauk Rapids 0 0 0 — 0
Brainerd 0 0 1 — 1
Overtime: Brd-Josh Wasniewski (Nick Solheim) 88:41
Shots on goal: SR 5, Brd 5
Goalkeepers: SR-Ramiro Yanez-Nunez (4 saves); Brd-Joe Anderholm (4 saves)
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.