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Woodbury boys soccer: Royals improve to 4-1-1 on year

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Many times, stats will not tell the story of a team.

Woodbury defender Ben Miller may not have his named announced for lots of goals or assists, but his defensive play makes a big difference for the Royals. Recently, he played tenaciously against White Bear Lake’s top scoring forward in a 3-0 win for the Royals on Thursday, Sept. 12. Miller kept the forward from breaking away with the ball, which helped the Royals to their second shutout of the season.

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“Ben Miller has been very valuable for us as he has been all season,” Royals coach Joe Quintavalle said.

The Royals coach said Miller, Steven Jessen Howard, Jerit Sanden and Chris Chiu all stepped up defensively in the win. They also had some help with Alistair Berg coming off the bench when Chiu left due to a concussion. The defense held the Bears to three shots on goal in the game.

“Aaron Clark was not really tested in the game,” Quintavalle said of his goalkeeper.

Matt Jessen Howard led the Royals offensively with a goal and two assists. Keng Xiong also knotted a goal, and Vlad Mann scored his first varsity goal.

Sebastian Usurriaga also threatened to score with three shots on goal. A quick scoring spurt by the Royals in the second half with two goals in three minutes sealed the win.

“It was only 1-0 at halftime but I thought we played a good half and were the better team,” Quintavalle said.

Their win came on the heels of a 1-1 tie at Park on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The Royals held a 1-0 lead until the final four minutes and had out-shot the Wolfpack 27-7. Royals goalkeeper Jake Simon finished with seven saves.

“It was disappointing to get a tie when we felt we deserved to win the game,” Quintavalle said.

Xiong scored a goal in the first half with eight minutes left as the Royals held court in ball control. They continued to control the ball in the second half, but the Wolfpack gained a penalty kick on a hand ball call against the Royals.

Mann had tried to block a Wolfpack corner kick that hit his arm accidentally. It led to a Wolfpack goal on the penalty kick.

“Vlad made the correct play but the ball was kicked so hard he had no time to get out of the way,” Quintavalle said.

The Royals (4-1-1, 2-0-1) continue Suburban East Conference play on Tuesday at home against Cretin-Derham Hall. It will be a key game in the SEC race as the Royals sit two points back of first and second place East Ridge (3-0) and Roseville (3-0).

“We will have to play our best to beat them,” Quintavalle said about CDH.

The Royals also visit Hastings on Thursday. The week concludes with a non-conference contest at Wayzata on Saturday.

-Matthew Davis

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