BAXTER -- As the Brainerd Warriors boys' soccer team gears up for the upcoming playoffs, coach David Devine was happy to see what his team was, or rather wasn't doing on the field in Tuesday's 1-1 tie with the Sartell Sabres.
Down a goal for most of the game, the Warriors weren't panicking and trying to force their offense. Instead, Brainerd, led by the direction of Mark Bublitz and Justin Cervin, calmly created offensive opportunities but just didn't get that one lucky bounce.
"I thought we had a lot of scoring chances in both halves," said Devine. "The guys understood that they had a goal against them but we were never really panicked because we were playing so well. In the second half I saw my kids playing with so much confidence and patience.
"They kept letting the game come to them instead of forcing it and that's a sign of maturity."
Sartell's Sean Bryant scored on a breakaway early in the first half after the Warrior defense wasn't able to control the ball deep in their end.
One of Brainerd's many chances came late in the first half. Jason Sather had a point blank shot off a rebound from a Jesse Bates strike, but Sartell goalie Derrick Brasel came up with a diving save.
"I know that we're talented offensively and I expect those chances to be there," said Devine. "But you just never expect that four point-blank shots would go right to the goalie. I was just real pleased with the way our offense was clicking."
Finally, with just under ten minutes to play in regulation, Brainerd cashed in on one of its 16 shots on goal.
Jason Roberts took a pass from Cervin and made a rush on goal. Roberts saw Bates in front of the net, made a cross pass and Bates headed the ball past Brasel to tie the game.
"Jason made a nice cross pass knowing his teammate was going to be there," Devine said, "but Jesse still had to direct the ball into the net. It was just a matter of running through the ball with your head, or nose, or chest and he did."
Cervin had a couple of chances to end the game in regulation but one shot off a Roberts corner kick was saved by Brasel and another shot floated harmlessly over the goal.
"Justin has been a starter for me since ninth grade," Devine said. "With his physical stature and athletic ability, he can dominate a game. Almost every game this year I've asked him to play 80 minutes and he's done it."
As the No. 8 seed in the Section 8, Class 2A playoffs, the Warriors aren't ready to concede a thing to anyone.
Sartell 1 0 0 -- 1
Brainerd 0 1 0 -- 1
First half -- S-Sean Bryant 17:28.
Second half -- B-Jesse Bates (Jason Roberts) 70:23.
Shots on goal -- S 6-2-0 -- 8; B 7-8-1 -- 16.
Goaltenders -- S Derrick Brasel (15 saves); B Joe Phelps (7 saves).
Conference -- B 4-5-4, S 4-5-3. Overall -- B 5-7-4, S 5-9-3. Next game -- Brainerd at Elk River in Section 8, Class 2A quarterfinal 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
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