BAXTER - Joe Nelson ran off the rust accumulated from a stint on the injured reserve to kick the Brainerd Warriors to a win.
The sophomore forward missed two weeks with a contusion on his calf. Nelson needed 80 minutes of regulation to get reacquainted with the game speed. His goal in the 84th minute proved he is back and handed Brainerd a 2-1 overtime victory over the Moorhead Spuds Monday at Southdale Fields.
"I tried to fake it and nobody was really open behind me, so I figured if I just turned around I could take a shot," said Nelson. "The keeper was way to the left and I decided to shoot it right."
The victory is Brainerd's first over Moorhead in program history; BHS had been 0-3. It follows Thursday's victory over Fergus Falls - another program first.
Warrior Jacob Williams (4) defended the ball against Moorhead's Robert Anderson (23) Monday at Southdale Fields in Baxter. The Warriors won 2-1 in overtime.
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"The guys are riding pretty high," said Warrior head coach Cahil Collins. "Joe is back and he was feeling pretty good. He got a little winded, which is why he had to come out, because he hasn't been practicing or anything the last two weeks. It's good to have him back and he came through in the end."
The Warriors (10-2-2) have won five straight and eight of their last nine. The win should give Brainerd the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Section 8-2A playoffs behind St. Cloud Tech and Elk River. Official seeding is Wednesday with the quarterfinals set to begin Saturday.
"This will get our confidence up a lot," said Nelson. "We'll go into sections really strong I think."
Dane Andersen put the Warriors on the board first with a quick kick past Spuds keeper Joe Seaver off a Chris Nathan corner kick.
Moorhead tied the score when Brad Hagen escaped from a scrum in front of the Warrior goal and scored three minutes later.
Warriors 2, Moorhead 1 (OT)
Key: Joe Nelson scored in the first overtime to prevent a tie.
Overall: Brd 11-2-2, Moor 7-9-2
Next: Brainerd at Alexandria, 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Both defenses kept the opposing offenses in check, but Brainerd did create quality opportunities.
"We had a good attack; we were just sending the ball over the net," said Collins. "Specifically Jacob Williams, but he's such a good player that they are going to come. Part of me thinks that if he is missing all the time now, when we get to the section game this Saturday he's going to be on."
Brainerd's defense held Moorhead to two shots in overtime and just four for the game. In the last nine games, the Warriors have outscored opponents 22-9. Only three times this season have they allowed more than one goal. Brainerd is 1-2 in those games.
"Defense has always been our foundation, and this year the defense has stepped it up a notch to be part of our attack," said Collins. "We'll send it back to switch the fields of play through the defense. There was a day when our midfield and forwards wouldn't dream of doing that because they might lose the ball back there. This year they have a lot of confidence in the four guys back there and they do such a good job."
Moorhead 0 1 0 0 - 1
Brainerd 0 1 1 0 - 2
Second half: Brd-Dane Andersen (Chris Nathan) 55:15; Moor-Brad Hagen 59:55
First overtime: Brd-Joe Nelson 84:08
Shots on goal: Brd 3 4 2 0 - 9, Moor 0 2 2 0 - 4
Goalkeepers: Brd-Brian Sexton (3 saves); Moor-Joe Seaver (7 saves)
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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