FAIRMONT - Fairmont Area netminder Trason Arens and the Cardinal boys soccer team held the Mankato East Cougars scoreless through the opening 53 minutes of Saturday's game in Fairmont.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Cougars would not let the game finish that way, scoring four goals in the final 27 minutes to take the 4-1 nonconference victory at the Kot Soccer Complex
As the Cougars fired away at Arens between the pipes, the Cardinals managed a pair of first-half shots on goal.
TOE-TO-TOE — Fairmont Area’s Brock Johnson (22) and Mankato East’s Nick Davis go toe-to-toe in battling for control of the soccer ball during nonconference action Saturday in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Sam Havnen (3), Evan Ward (12) and goalkeeper Trason Arens (99) watch the play. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
With Brock Johnson's unassisted blast from close range finding the back of the net at the 9:40 mark of the opening half, the Cardinals were shooting at a .500 percent clip.
"Our shooting percentage today was pretty good," Fairmont Area head coach Jeff Kot said with a grin. "We expected Mankato East to be really good and they were."
Arens managed stop all nine of the Cougars' scoring attempts in the first half, including one blast off the foot of Brandon Sloniker for a diving save.
"I thought that our defense and Trason did a fantastic job today," said Kot. "We had freshman Leyton Becker back on defense for us and Brian Jensen, who did a great job. It took East a long time to get a goal, and that was in part defense and part Trason making some really tough saves for us in the first half."
Amin Daees was the one who finally was able to break open the scoring for the Cougars in the second half with an unassisted shot at the 27:34 mark.
The Cougars then were able to generate some offense off of the Cardinals' third shot on net for their second goal.
After Mankato East goalie Derek Helms corraled the Cardinal scoring attempt off the foot of Evan Ward, Helms then punted it deep into the Cardinals' end of the field.
Ricky Cano-Hernandez trapped the bounce and gathered the ball just long enough to rip a shot into the net to take the 2-1 lead.
Sloniker then was able to sneak a pair of goals past the outstretched arms of Arens for the final Cougar tallies.
Nick Davis sent a kick from the corner into a group of players inside the penalty box, but Sloniker's quick foot drove the ball into the twine with 7:53 remaining.
On the final goal, Sloniker received a pass from Cano-Hernandez and sent a 30-foot blast just inside the post for the goal.
"It wasn't a win for us today, but we asked the players to play balanced and put pressure on them, and they did," said Kot. "Defensively, we played as well as we could. We just have to be able to hold that level for the full game."
Arens stopped 16 shots in the game, including seven in the second half.
Helms stopped two of Fairmont Area's three shots on goal for Mankato East.
Fairmont Area (1-4) travels for a nonconference game at 4 p.m. game today in New Prague.
Mankato East (3-0-2) plays host to Rochester Mayo in a 5 p.m. game Tuesday in Mankato.
ME 0-4 - 4
FA 1-0 - 1
FA - Brock Johnson (unassisted), 9:40.
ME - Amin Daees (unassisted), 27:34.
ME - Ricky Cano-Hernandez (Derek Helms), 20:11.
ME - Brandon Sloniker (Nick Davis), 7:53.
ME - Sloniker (Cano-Hernandez), 4:14.
Shots on goal: Fairmont Area 3; Mankato East 20.
Saves: Trason Arens (FA) 16; Derek Helms (ME) 2.