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Woodbury boys soccer: Royals beat No. 6 Champlin Park

The Woodbury Royals boys soccer team may have won their first two games, but their coach sees plenty of room for improvement. Their 2-1 win over Hill-Murray on August 24 may have summarized it all as a 2-0 lead became endangered in the second half.

“The good news is that we won the game and played terrible,” Royals coach Joe Quintavalle said. “The bad news is we may not win again playing this way.”

Brandon Bieszk had the first goal of the game for the Royals, and he assisted on the second one. That first goal came about despite Hill-Murray having luck with ball control.

“We did not come ready to play,” Quintavalle said. “We changed our approach in the second half due to a narrow field and our lack of success on possessing the ball in the first half but we came out flat in the second half as well.”

Despite the team’s flatness, Matt Jessen-Howard had the second goal for the Royals, which gave them a 2-0 lead. Austin Olson of the Hill-Murray Pioneers then cut that lead in half with a goal.

The Royals escaped with the win on the road. Goalkeeper Aaron Clark had five saves in the win. The victory came as their second win despite periods of lackluster play.

Prior to the win over the Pioneers, Woodbury began the season with a 2-1 win over Champlin Park, which was ranked sixth in the Class AA state poll.

“We did not start the game playing very good soccer but as the half went on we played better so we felt good going into halftime,” Quintavalle said.

Keng Xiong scored the first goal for the Royals for a 1-0 lead. The Rebels responded in the second half to tie the game in an unusual way. Their goal came on a deflection when Royals goalkeeper Jake Simon cleared the ball on defense.

The Rebels kept the momentum going, but Bieszk stopped their momentum with a goal on a free kick. It sealed the 2-1 win for the Royals in their home opener. Simon finished with four saves in goal and the win.

Suburban East Conference play starts up this week for the Royals with their opener on Thursday at Forest Lake. Quintavalle hopes to see a more intense Royals squad this time around.

“We have a talented team but we need to be ready to play before we step on the field the rest of the season,” he said.

—Matthew Davis