Strong second half guides Rebel girls

Sports Editor

The Champlin Park girls soccer team was left searching for its offense after being shut out in its first two games of the 2017 season.

Champlin Park junior captain Alex Lotts directs the Rebel offense during the Rebels’ 6-1 victory over Park Center Aug. 29. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky)

The Rebels dropped their first two games of the season 4-0 to Maple Grove Aug. 24, and 1-0 to Hopkins Aug. 26, and fell behind 1-0 to Park Center just 45 seconds into their game Aug. 29.

Champlin Park tied up the game before halftime on a goal by junior captain Alex Lotts, and the Rebels scored five goals in the second half to seal the victory.

“I think it came down to them keeping their cool as a team, staying calm and collected, that wasn’t how we wanted to start the game, getting scored on in the first 45 seconds,” Champlin Park assistant coach Meghann Witchger, who filled in for head coach Calen Nimmer at the Park Center game, said. “Park Center definitely came out on their toes and we were on our heels, but the team got together at halftime and talked about how we needed to do better and we knew we were the better team, we just needed to play like it.”

Once the second half began, the tables seemed to turn. Grace Marshalek, Alexa Grimm, Amber Nichols and Morgan Mauch scored for the Rebels, while Lotts picked up her second goal of the game and added two assists.

“I think we just kept the intensity up and we knew we still had it in us,” Lotts said. “We knew if we could keep going, we could keep our intensity up, keep the ball on the floor and have our passes connected, then it would eventually come.

“We all talked at halftime and we took what worked for us and did more of that, which added to our game.”

Champlin Park rode its strong second half to a 6-1 victory, the Rebels’ first of the season.

“In the second half they came out, got their heads up and played to their strengths,” Witchger said. “They just had to go out and actually score some goals.”

While Lotts’ individual stats pop out in the box score, Witchger felt Lotts wasn’t playing as well as she knows Lotts is capable of to begin the second half.

“The start of the second half I didn’t see what I wanted to see out of her,” Witchger said. “She did score on that rebound goal, which was good, but I took her off and talked to her about waiting too long to see what their back line did rather than be proactive and have them react to her.

“You could see they were having trouble keeping track of her over the last 20 minutes.”

Champlin Park will look to carry its momentum into its next game of the season against Spring Lake Park at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, at Champlin Park High School.

Follow Sun Post sports editor Chris Chesky on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris and on Facebook at SunSportsStaff.