BY ROB LAPLANTE
For a team that plays its home games on natural grass, the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ soccer team may lobby for turf to be laid down when playing home games at Community Ed Field.
The season began with three consecutive road games – all on synthetic turf. The Knights recently posted a third-place finish at the Irondale Tournament. A 1-1 tie against East Ridge was followed by a 3-1 win over Irondale.
They continued its run on fake grass with a 1-0 victory on August 28 over St. Cloud Tech. The game was played at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.
STMA head coach Megan Johnson said having the prior experience of playing on turf the week before helped them prepare for the game with Tech.
“I think it helped,” Johnson said. “The turf is such a faster game.”
That being said, Johnson said the game with the Tigers started out anything but fast. “The first half was a slower paced game and we just played to the speed of the other team,” she said. “The second half we came out and got a lot of opportunities, we just couldn’t finish on them.”
STMA didn’t need to finish on too many chances to defeat Tech. Sophomore midfielder Maddi Young scored the game’s lone goal off a corner kick and junior goalie MiCale Jensen and sophomore goalie Becky Penuska split duties, picking up the shutout win.
“We got scrappy in front of the net and Maddi was there on the rebound to kick it in,” said Johnson, describing the lone goal off the corner kick.
One of the highlights from the first three games came in the Irondale Tournament. Junior’s Rachel Bourget and DJ Noelle each scored their first career varsity goals in the 3-1 Irondale win.
The Knights played its first home game of the season Tuesday night against conference rival Rogers (results unavailable due to deadline). Rogers and STMA have each won the conference twice the past four seasons.
“Rogers is our biggest rival,” Johnson said. “Being so close to each other, a conference opponent and now being in our section has made these huge games.”
It was a rare home game, as the Knights play a road-heavy schedule to begin the season. Seven of the first eight games are scheduled on the road, including Thursday’s showdown at Buffalo.
They finish the season playing six of the last eight at home. “The schedule always seems to shape up like that for us,” Johnson said. “It is kind of nice to get all those home games late.”