NEW ULM - Before the Section 2A boys soccer playoff brackets came out, Fairmont Area head coach Jeff Kot looked at the list of teams and decided it was New Ulm that would create an ideal first-round match-up for his young Cardinals.
Kot got his wish as the No. 12-seeded Cardinals visited the fifth-seeded Eagles on Monday.
While the match didn't favor the Cardinals on paper, they did manage to give the Eagles all they could handle.
SIDE KICK — New Ulm striker Noah Webb (left) curls a side kick around Fairmont Area defender Evan Ward during opening-round Section 2A boys soccer postseason action Monday at the Martin Luther College fields in New Ulm. New Ulm went on to edge Fairmont Area in overtime, 3-2. (Photo by Steve Muscatello/New Ulm Journal)
New Ulm escaped with a 3-2 win in overtime over its South Central Conference rivals, the second time in a row the teams played to a 3-2 overtime game.
Broderick Brown scored all three of New Ulm's goals, helping the Eagles rally from a 2-0 deficit late in the first half.
"We had hoped to get New Ulm as a draw," Kot said. "Last time we came from behind in each half and they beat us in overtime similar to this.
"But we knew we could match up with them. A lot of times, that third game is it. Our problem was we had that third elusive goal, we have not scored three goals in a game all year."
And speaking of third goals, Brown's third goal came with 4:11 left in overtime to help the Eagles move to 10-4-1. They will travel to No. 4 seed Worthington - a 1-0 winner over Mankato Loyola - at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for another do-or-die battle.
The Cardinals finished the season with a 2-14-1 record.
But it hardly looked like Fairmont Area had only two wins on Monday as it jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage in the first half.
Ryan Busche scored on a corner kick off of an assist from Evan Ward to put the Cardinals ahead 1-0 with 25:06 left in the first half.
New Ulm had several chances to either tie the game or go ahead, but the Eagles were unable to capitalize.
Fairmont Area built on its lead with 44 seconds left when Ward found the back of the net, this time on an assist from Brock Johnson.
But with a 2-0 lead, the Cardinals decided to go into defense mode, something that hurt them in the long run. New Ulm's Broderick Brown answered Ward's goal with just 20 seconds to go in the half, a big goal that shifted the momentum right before halftime.
"That goal was absolutely necessary because if we went to half 2-0, I honestly think we would've lost it, we would've caved in," Brown said. "We didn't have the momentum to bring us the whole way through."
New Ulm coach Jack Gronholz agreed with Brown. He thought there might be a chance for the Eagles to answer late in the half even though there wasn't much time left.
"It was really huge, being down 2-0 and starting the half down 2-1, you got the momentum," Gronholz said. "I was yelling, and usually when you have 40 seconds left, you think OK, I can't go down (and score). But I have to give it to them, they pressed and stayed confident the whole time."
The Eagles took advantage of that shift of momentum in the second half, finally getting the tying goal on a Noah Webb pass to Brown for his second score of the game with 35:12 left in the half.
Both teams had chances to win the game in the second half, and New Ulm eventually got that game-winner in overtime on Brown s third score.
New Ulm goalkeeper Jonathan Sehloff had five saves and Fairmont keeper Trason Arens finished with 10 saves.
The playoff win was the first for Brown and most of the Eagles. Brown knew that it would be tough to score a goal on Monday against the Cardinals, let alone three.
"Everyone is here to win, there is no second chance in the playoffs," Brown said. "You have to go 100 percent the whole time in order to keep living."