BAXTER -- Sitting on the bench with the last bit of Tuesday's sunlight piercing through the pine trees behind him, Brainerd Warriors boys' soccer coach David Devine posed a question aloud to himself.
He wondered which of his teams would show up at Southdale Field to play the Sartell Sabres in a Central Lakes Conference contest.
Would it be the team that beat the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles 3-2 Sept. 11 for the first time ever? Or would it be the one blown out Monday by St. Cloud Tech?
Devine saw a mixture of both, but Brainerd came away with a 2-1 victory against a squad that has given Brainerd fits the past two seasons.
Senior captain Jesse Bates bookended a satisfying win for the Warriors. At 13:22, Bates recovered a missed shot in front of the Sabres' goal. The senior captain corralled the rebound and sent his own attempt past the goalkeeper for a quick 1-0 advantage.
"When we come from a game where we got shut out and a goal isn't happening and we miss some of those early chances for a goal, we start pressing and forcing it," said Devine. "When we got that goal early on, you could feel the tension leave.
"Then, we had a little letdown and it was a little shaky. The middle half of the game was a little shaky."
Sartell tied the contest at 54:27. Jason Moir stole the ball deep in Brainerd territory. It happened on a play, Devine said, that was textbook soccer. The three-part play, as Devine described, worked well on the first two parts, but a breakdown on the third part left Moir alone on the left side of Brainerd keeper Josiah Collins.
After positioning himself closer, Moir powered his shot past Collins for the tie.
The sophomore keeper redeemed himself later, stopping a 2-on-0 Sartell break and preserving the 1-all tie.
Bates' second goal then decided the outcome. With less than three minutes remaining, on a 1-on-3 breakaway, Bates outran Sartell's defense. He collected the ball, fired his shot across his body and into the net for the deciding goal.
"That finishing goal was very nice to see," said Devine. "It was a little bit of deja vu because he had that same situation here in our first home game against Fergus Falls and he missed it. I know that must have been going through his mind. But he finishes it and that was so nice."
The win pushes Brainerd (4-3 overall, 3-3 conference) into the middle of the conference and in a position Devine will take.
The coach knew his team had a chance of pulling out the victory, however, after Bates' first goal he had reason too.
In the Warriors' previous six games, when they've scored, they've won. Brainerd's four losses have all been shutouts.
Sartell 0 1 -- 1
Brainerd 1 1 -- 2
First half -- 1, B-Jesse Bates (Tom Andrew) 13:22
Second half -- 2, S-Jason Moir (unassisted) 54:27; 3, B-Bates (unassisted) 77:53
Shots on goal -- S 10 5 -- 15; B 6 5 -- 11
Goaltenders -- S-Tim Sahli (13 saves); B-Josiah Collins (10 saves)
Conference -- B 3-3; S 1-3-1. Overall -- B 3-4; S 2-4-2. Next game -- Brainerd vs. Alexandria 5 p.m. Thursday at Baxter.
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