Boys improve to 5-1-1 in conference
BY ROB LAPLANTE
The St. Michael-Albertville girls’ soccer team shutdown one of the state’s highest scoring teams and in the process, shutdown one of the state’s leading goal scorers, last Saturday in a 1-0 victory over Blaine.
The Bengals came into the contest having a 10-2-1 overall record. The Northwest Suburban Conference foe also had one of the state’s most prolific goal scorers in sophomore Britney Monteon. In 13 games this season, Monteon had registered 22 goals.
It appeared early in the match that the game may be high scoring. It took only 1:02 of the first half for the Knights to take a 1-0 lead, after sophomore Jordyn Walker fired a low shot past Blaine goalkeeper Alex Barber-Verdek.
It was Walker’s fourth goal of the season and the sophomore said she had some room to work with. “The defense slid open and we got a through ball and I just took the shot.”
A surprised Walker added after the match, she didn’t think the early goal would turn out to be the game-winner. “I really didn’t think it would,” said a laughing Walker, when asked if the goal would stand for nearly 79 minutes.
The Knights stymied the Bengals and its standout attacker thanks to solid goalkeeping from senior MiCale Jensen. Jensen didn’t face many shots, but made a key breakaway save early in the contest when she deflected a Monteon shot wide of the net. It was Jensen’s sixth shutout of the season.
STMA head coach Megan Johnson said she was proud of her goalie, but credited the entire team for helping shutdown a high powered player like Monteon.
“She’s a great scorer, but we knew what to expect,” Johnson said. “We knew she needed to be marked and the girls did a great job of taking turns but always making sure she was marked.”
The victory meant a lot more to the Knights players, coaches and fans than just a regular mark in the win column. At halftime, the Knights honored the parents of 16-year old Michaela Olson – a former STMA student who died suddenly this past summer while jogging in the park.
“It felt so good,” Johnson said. “To be able to do that for her family and remember her in that way was nice.”
“We all wanted to win it for her,” Walker said. “This win was a team effort and it was for her.”
Earlier in the week, the Knights had clinched at least a tie for the Mississippi 8 Conference title with a 2-1 win over Buffalo and a 3-0 win over Cambridge-Isanti. It marks back-to-back seasons STMA has won the conference title.
The victory over the Bison was especially sweet, being they are the only team to defeat the Knights this season, who are 10-1-3 overall and 6-1-0 in the conference.
STMA dominated play in the first meeting, outshooting Buffalo 22-2. But Buffalo goalkeeper Katherine Brainerd stood tall to the challenge, stopping all 22 shots in a 1-0 Buffalo win.
Brainerd did a good job in Tuesday’s rematch, but senior midfielder Jess Johnson scored twice in the victory.
“That felt really good,” Johnson said. “We’ve done a lot of goal setting with the girls and that was one of their intern goals. Other than winning the conference and going to state, we wanted to beat Buffalo the second time.”
The Knights had a chance to clinch the Mississippi 8 title outright with a win Tuesday over Big Lake (match results were unavailable). The last regular season match is 5 p.m. Thursday at Monticello.
Section 8AA playoffs begin next week.
help boys cling
to first place
A tie is generally looked at with mixed emotions. But a 0-0 overtime draw could be considered a moral victory for the St. Michael-Albertville boys’ soccer team
With the season winding down, STMA was clinging to a half game lead over second-place Buffalo heading into last Tuesday’s critical M-8 showdown.
The Knights and Buffalo could muster no offense in a scoreless tie. STMA junior goalkeeper Sammy Guillou stopped eight shots and Buffalo senior Elijah Etzel stopped six in the tie that kept the Knights (5-1-1 conference, 8-3-2 overall) a half game ahead of the Bison (4-1-2 conference, 6-5-2 overall) in the standings.
With no margin for error, STMA insured itself another day in first-place thanks to the leg of Justin McLain. The senior forward recorded a hat trick in a 4-2 victory last Thursday at Cambridge-Isanti. It was McLain’s team-leading 12th goal of the season.
STMA and St. Cloud Tech battled Monday night to a 3-3 tie. McLain again was the hero, scoring all three goals as he recorded his second hat trick in as many games.
The tie improved its overall record to 8-3-3 overall and stretched their unbeaten streak to eight games heading into Tuesday’s showdown at Big Lake. The final match of the regular season is 7 p.m. Thursday at home against Monticello.