Hillcrest found a greater path in the playoffs Monday after beating East Grand Forks (EGF) in a slippery match. With rain falling the Comets quickly jumped out to a lead and displayed greater will to be the second seed entering playoffs on Saturday.
Iver Honningdal put the Comets up early, stealing a ball in the seventh minute at midfield. He lofted a pass over the defense to find Eirik Primavera, who quickly put the ball in the net. With the Comets up 1-0 Hillcrest forced pressure at midfield. When EGF crossed the line into Comet territory there were a rush of midfield players who descended, forcing EGF back to defense. Hillcrest found success in this style, with Honningdal and Primavera both earning goals before the fifteenth minute of the game.
Hillcrest was up 3-0 when Primavera earned his hat trick. A volley from midfield by Fluge found Primavera who one-timed the pass into the net at the sixteenth minute. The next eight minutes had the ball nearly sitting on the EGF side with the Comets working to strike, finding little room for shots as EGF started filling the box with defenders.
To combat this, Hillcrest started to attack from outside the box. Senior Tri-Captain Nick Foss received the ball at midfield, dribbled through two defenders before reaching the wall of EGF defenders. After a touch pass from Primavera, Foss placed a strike on the net from outside the box. The ball darted through the defensive line and found the EGF goalie in front of the net who couldn’t handle the strike as the ball deflected off his hands and into the net.
Primavera scored again at the 31st minute, and EGF answered with an attack up the right side of the field to send the Comets into halftime up 6-1. The weight of the game settled into the Comet’s mind, who were conscious about finishing the game well, knowing they were likely seeded behind EGF for the upcoming playoffs, the third seeded team likely to meet powerhouse Bemidji in their pairing of the section tournament.
The Comets leapt out of halftime with greater intensity than they closed the half. The Comets looked to spread out the defenders in the box, after Hillcrest found great success up the middle of the field. Primavera came up the left side five minutes into the half, finding Honningdal in the box on a cross. The goal put Hillcrest up 7-1. Primavera continued the Comet attack, finding his fifth goal minutes later off a pass from Markus Fluge. Fluge’s pass to Primavera marked his fourth assist of the game, and was only warming up as he found Primavera three minutes later on a cross from the right side of the field. The three man scoring show by Primavera, Honningdal, and Fluge ended when Primavera nailed a hard volley off the EGF keeper, where Honningdal gathered the deflection and put the ball away. The goal marked the Comets’ ninth of the afternoon, and eded scoring for Hillcrest. EGF was able to sneak one more goal past Hillcrest at the seventy-sixth minute of the game.
“The Comets played their best game of the season, both offensively and defensively,” Coach Rod Jensen noted after the game. The statement meant a lot to the Comets, who faced incredible challenges with the field on the rainy afternoon. “We realized excellent midfield defense and ball control from Senior Tri-Captains, HeeTae Nam and Camden Hoganson, as well as Joel Ystebo, Alex Knutson, Trym Thomassen, James Cho, Klaas Grundmann, Ethan Ness, and Ian So. We saw superb efforts from our defenseive backs, Trevor Antuna, Jowell Seymour, Kenneth Murage, and Cole Peterson. Overall, it was a great game to end our regular season with.”
Hillcrest enters playoffs with a 10-5 record, and will play host to their cross-town friends at Kennedy High School in the first round of playoffs. Hillcrest faces the Otters at 3pm on Danielsen field at Hillcrest Academy.