After posting a perfect 10-0 regular season, Barron’s soccer team won a 3-team Div. 3 regional with a thrilling 2-1 win over rival Cumberland on a cold Saturday, Oct. 24, at Cumberland.
The game was moved from Barron after the recent pre-winter artic blast left the Golden Bears’ field snow covered. Still, the Bears managed to get by the Beavers for the third time in a season shortened by COVID-19 concerns.
Cumberland advanced to the regional title match with a 2-1 win over Aquinas, while Barron enjoyed a first round playoff bye in the WIAA playoffs (the number of teams and divisions were cut this year due to several teams not playing this fall).
Barron’s Lucas Lopez broke the ice in the regional final at Cumberland, scoring off a corner kick by fellow senior Cole Hanson 9:01 into the match.
Awalow Bundid, one of the state’s top scorers, was shadowed by the Beavers all day. However, he managed to get off a shot at the 76:49 mark that a Cumberland defender tried to block. The ball glanced off the Beaver and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Cumberland kept things interesting, scoring with less than a minute to play, but Barron won the championship match, 2-1.
“It was a nervous week for us,” first year head coach Matt Sprague said. “Having been indoors due to snow on our field, we had to play as the home team in our opponent’s stadium. Cumberland knows us very well. We beat Cumberland two times this year, but getting a third win can be difficult sometimes.
“Offensively, we played strong as always by passing and attacking the ball. We had an idea that Cumberland would try to limit touches by Awalow Bundid and Nurdin Ahmad. We needed a big game from Lucas Lopez, who plays center mid with Nurdin. Lucas delivered his best performance of the season so far.
“Defensively, we had Mason Ecklor playing defensive center for the first time this year,” the coach said. “Zack Mickelson held the defense together, as he has many times this season, but right defender Alex Martinez was our star on defense this game.
“All season I have been telling Alex to trust his speed and quickness; push up on defense and attack the ball. Everything came together for him this game.
“In the second half with a 1-0 score, Cumberland had a shot on goal that our goalie Collin Krance just missed. As it was about to go into our net, out of nowhere Martinez was there to deflect the ball away. I feel it may have been play of the game.”
Barron is scheduled to next host a sectional semifinal at 3:30 p.m. against Arcadia this Thursday, Sept. 29. Arcadia was seeded third and Barron first in a 7-team subsectional bracket. Arcadia defeated a second-seeded private school co-op team out of La Crosse, 10-3, for its regional title.
Thursday’s winner will play either Columbus Catholic or Pacelli for a sectional title at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at Marshfield. Last year’s sectional champion and a second-seed in this year’s tournament, Northland Pines, forfeited its tournament berth.
Unity/St. Croix Falls, a team Barron twice beat this season, will play at Rice Lake in a Div. 2 sectional semifinal Thursday night.