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October 23, 2018

10/11/2018 2:41:00 PM
NB's upset bid comes up short vs CL

Chisago Lakes 2, North Branch 1
The Wildcats girls’ soccer team, after having one of the best regular seasons in school history, needed a late goal on a penalty kick from Selina Lee to beat the improving Vikings 2-1 last Thursday, October 4.  The game was played on Senior Night for the Vikings at the brand-new turf field at North Branch High School.  The Vikings gave their fans something to cheer about against the rival Wildcats, who are seeded second in the upcoming section playoffs.

Coming off a loss to St. Michael-Albertville, the Wildcats were eager to get back on track.    They owned a majority of the possession early in the match.  In the 20th minute, Wildcat Amber Peterson sent a nice ball into the Viking 18-yard box, and Tess Cody was able to nudge it past Viking keeper Emma Mohs for a 1-0 Wildcat lead.  The Wildcats continue to own the possession game throughout the remainder of the half but were unable to put more points on the board.   In the 66th minute, the Wildcats committed a foul just outside the corner of their 18-yard box.  Viking Sylvia Linkert struck a free kick off just over the Wildcat wall and out of the reach of Wildcat goal keeper Dylan Grave for the goal.  The Wildcats and Vikings battled it out until the 75th minute.  The Wildcats advanced into the Viking 18-yard box.  Selina Lee was knocked down in the box by a Viking player, drawing a penalty kick.  For the sixth time this season, Lee was asked to take the PK.  And Lee came through for the sixth time this season, planting the ball squarely in the back of the net to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.  The Wildcats held off the Vikings through the remainder of the game to claim the victory.  Wildcat head coach Wayne Kugel said “It was a close match.  Josh Kopp is a fantastic coach.  He has injected a new energy and philosophy into the Viking program.  It will be cool to see how he and the Vikings girls’ soccer team progress in the upcoming years."
St. Michael-Albertville 3, Chisago Lakes 0
The Mississippi 8 Conference champion St. Michael-Albertville Knights scored once in the first half and twice in the second half to shut out the Wildcats 3-0.  The game was played at Chisago Lakes High School Tuesday, October 2.

Wildcats started off strong, but the Knights scored midway through the first half to take a 1-0 lead.  The Knights scored early in the second half to go up 2-0.  The Wildcats continued to work hard and had a couple of good scoring opportunities but failed to convert.  Eventually, the Knights put another goal into the back of the net to seal the win.  Wildcat head coach Wayne Kugel said, “St. Michael is a really good team and Megan Johnson is a fantastic coach.  The game was physical but clean and that’s all we can ask for.  We played hard but couldn’t find the net.  We will have lots of good video to watch and learn from."
Chisago Lakes 3, Minnehaha Academy 2
Kellie Higgins scored twice on set plays to lead the Wildcats to a 3-2 win over the Minnehaha Academy Redhawks last Saturday, October 6 at Minnehaha Academy.  It was the final regular season game foe the Wildcats.

At the 12-minute mark, Wildcats were awarded a corner kick.  For the second time this season, Higgins curled the ball into the net from the corner for a goal.  In the 31st minute, the Cats were awarded a free kick.  Higgins bent the ball over the Redhawk wall and into the upper corner of the next well out of the reach of the goalkeeper to put the Wildcats up 2-0. Early into the second half, the Redhawks found a small window in the Wildcat defense and scored to cut the lead to 2-1.   But a few minutes later, Selina Lee sent a through ball to Kaitlyn Wille, who scored with a left footed finish make the score 3-1.  The Redhawks scored again late in the match, but it was not enough, and the Wildcats hung on for the win.
Forest Lake 2, North Branch 0
The Vikings finished out their regular season at Forest Lake, losing 2-0 to the Rangers last Saturday, October 6.  The game was scoreless at halftime, but the Rangers cored twice in the second half to pick up the win.

Section Preview
The Chisago Lakes Wildcats finished with a 12-4-0 regular season record to earn the number two seed in the Section 7A girls’ soccer playoffs.  The North Branch Vikings, who finished 3-12-1 in the regular season, earned the number ten seed in the 17-team section despite winning just three games this season.  The Vikings earned their seed by playing a tough schedule in a tough conference and playing well late in the season.

The Chisago County rivals are on a potential collision course to play this Saturday at Chisago Lakes.  The Wildcats open up against the 15th seeded Proctor Rails (1-13-1) at home tonight at 7 p.m.  Anything less than a total de-Rail-ment will be a disappointment for the Wildcats.  The Vikings will head up to Esko to take on the seventh-seeded Eskomos (8-7-1) tonight, also at 7 p.m.  The Vikings should have some confidence going into tonight’s game after losing to the highly seeded Wildcats 2-1 on a late goal and hanging with Class AA Forest Lake before losing a close one, 2-0.  If the Vikings manage to upset Esko, they will just need to head down County Road 14 to Lindstrom to take on the Wildcats at Chisago Lakes High School on Saturday, with the game time yet to be determined.  If the Vikings make it to this game, they will be primed to upset their natural rival and buoyed by their late-season performance against those same Wildcats.

The road to the state tournament in Section 7A goes through Cloquet.  The Lumberjacks were 15-1-0 this year, including ten shutouts.  Standout player Kendra Kelley has 36 goals this season, and she scored in all but one game.  So, it seems that to stop the Lumberjacks, you need to stop Kendra Kelley – which is easier said than done.  

Key offensive players for the Wildcats include Selina Lee, who has converted all six of her penalty kicks this season and Kellie Higgins, who has shown she can curl a ball into the net from the corner.  The Wildcats lost to Cloquet 1-0 early in the season, so the potential for the Wildcats’ second trip to the state tournament is realistic.

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