Sophomore forward Pierce Erickson scored twice and top-ranked could do little wrong in advancing to the boys state soccer tournament for the first time with a 3-1 win over conference rival No. 5 Eagan in the Section 3AA finals.
Erickson put in two goals in a first half filled with fireworks, and that was all the Lightning needed to claim a trip to state Tuesday at Park of Cottage Grove.
“We’ve found ways to win when we’ve played well, we’ve found ways to win when we haven’t played well,” said Eastview head coach Scott Gustafson. “We’ve found ways to win when Mathew Gweh scores a ton of goals. We’ve found ways when he gets shut out during the games.”
Eastview (18-0-1) will play in the soccer tournament quarterfinals Oct. 26-28, the exact time, day and site to be determined in a Saturday seeding meeting.
“It was huge,” said junior forward Mathew Gweh. “We’re the first Eastview boys soccer team to go to state. We came out here and played our hearts out and got the win.”
Eagan finished the season 13-4-2.
Erickson scored the first goal of the game off a pass from senior forward Joe Karam just 2:42 into the contest.
But Eagan came right back to knot the game at 1-all on a breakaway goal by junior Juan Sjoberg.
Eastview responded by scoring again, and again it was Erickson who drove in a rebound goal after his first attempt had been denied by the Eagan goalie.
“One thing that really steps up for me is our defense,” said coach Gustafson. “Bends, bends but really doesn’t break. Before this game we had five consecutive shutouts on the bounce right there and hopefully we can continue to look forward to good goalkeeping and good defense throughout the tournament.
“I think Eagan deserves to be in the state tournament,” Gustafson added. “They are a really tough team. And the nice thing is we have to go through Apple Valley, we have to go though Eagan, we have to go through Jefferson, Burnsville, Lakeville North. You know, four or five top-quality teams to help hone us and get us to this point where when we’re in a tough game, a tight game like this, we’re OK. We’re not nervous at all out there. We’re just playing the same game that we do every single game.”
Eastview led 2-1 at the half and then made it an insurmountable climb for the Wildcats when Gweh went coast to coast to make it a 3-1 advantage. It was Gwen’s 23rd goal of the season.
“We never stopped fighting,” said Eastview junior goalkeeper Sam Ruelas. “We came out and played and we outplayed them.”
Eastview had won the regular-season contest between the two South Suburban Conference rivals 1-0. Tuesday’s game was a more intense affair.