By Jeremy Behnke
Journal Sports Editor
NEW ULM - After struggling for the last seven games to score goals, the New Ulm boys soccer team seemed to solve that problem on Thursday.
The Eagles scored three first-half goals against South Central Conference rival Fairmont and that helped them to a 4-2 win at the Martin Luther College soccer complex.
The Eagles (3-8) lost seven straight games prior to Thursday's match with Fairmont, including a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals Sept. 6 in Fairmont. But on Thursday, the Eagles were on the same page, scoring early and often. Seth Wiechman led the charge with two goals, with Noah Webb and Broderick Brown each adding a goal. Ryan Plath, Justin Steffl and Josh Koelpin each had an assist in the game.
"The past few games, we've been struggling a lot with our passes," Wiechman said. "Tonight we finally got it. We made the passes tonight and it finally put us in the lead."
One difference for the Eagles was the fact that Plath was able to help the offense out from the midfield position. His passing, along with Koelpin's from midfield, helped push the offense up the field, something that the Eagles have struggled with recently.
Webb scored the first goal of the game when he put away a loose ball in front of the net with 31:39 left in the first half. Wiechman then scored his first goal off of an assist from Plath. Plath's pass from midfield found Wiechman in stride up the field. Wiechman didn't need to adjust as he picked up the pass and put it past Fairmont keeper Matt Tennyson for the 2-0 lead with 23 minutes left in the half.
"To be in stride on those kinds of plays is everything," Wiechman said. "We work on those in practice all the time and we finally did it."
It didn't take Wiechman long to respond with another goal. About 10 minutes later, he made it 3-0 off of Steffl's assist. Needless to say, the lead was big for a team that's been digging itself out of deficits recently.
"We've always dug ourselves a hole in games past," Wiechman said. "It was great to finally get ahead for once."
New Ulm went up 4-0 in the second half when Brown scored on a breakaway. But the fourth-ranked Cardinals didn't go away as they scored two goals late and nearly added a third to make it interesting.
The first Fairmont goal came with six minutes left in the game on a goal by Brock Johnson. Less than a minute later, Grant Becker made it 4-2 and a third Fairmont goal just missed by a matter of inches when a shot hit the crossbar with four minutes left in the game.
The Eagles got seven saves from goalkeeper Alex King. New Ulm hosts Willmar at 11 a.m. Saturday.