|9/18/2020 10:47:00 AM|
VIKES ON FIRE: Girls soccer wins three in a row in M8C play
The Viking girls’ soccer team did something that has likely never been done in Minnesota high school soccer – they won three games in a row by the score of 2-1. More importantly, the three straight wins vaulted the Vikings into third place in the Mississippi 8 Conference, just one point behind conference leaders St. Francis and Monticello and one point ahead of fourth-place Chisago Lakes.
North Branch 2, Becker 1
Summer Fruth’s second half goal off of a corner kick broke a 1-1 tie and proved to be the game winner as the Vikings beat the Becker Bulldogs 2-1 Tuesday, September 8 at North Branch.
The Vikings struck first, just a few minutes into the first half. Ava Gerten took a short pass in the Bulldog box, got behind the defense, and put a good strike on the ball to knock it into the net for a 1-0 lead. Later in the half, Becker capitalized on a defensive breakdown deep in Viking territory and tied the game at 1-1. Past the midway point of the second half, Abby Randall sent a corner kick into the middle of the Becker box. The ball came out to Fruth and she buried it for the game winner.
Viking head coach Josh Kopp said “We came out fast and dominated the first 20 minutes. We went into a lull for the rest of the first half and the first 20 minutes of the second half. But they never really put any pressure on us, other than when they scored the goal. After we scored, we kept the pressure up on them and came out with the win.”
North Branch 2, Cambridge/Isanti 1
In a game with more than its share of questionable officiating, Abby Randall’s goal with 15 minutes left in the second half broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Vikings a 2-1 win over the Cambridge/Isanti Bluejackets Thursday, September 10 at North Branch.
The Bluejackets came out aggressively right from the get-go, but the Vikings struck first. Emmy Meyer’s throw-in deep in Cambridge territory sailed into the box, deflected off a Bluejacket defender and into the net to put the Vikings up 1-0. Cambridge tied it up on a nice shot later in the half. For Randall’s game winner, she got the ball high in the right side of the Bluejacket box. She never gave the goalkeeper a chance as she struck a beautiful shot just inside the left post to give the Vikings the lead. The Vikings turned up the heat after that, pressing and winning most contested balls.
Viking head coach Josh Kopp said, “It was a weird game on a weird night. We were a little sloppier than normal with our ball possession in this one. But once we got going, we were able to get a fair amount of shots on them. This was a pretty physical game, but even though they were more aggressive we had four yellow cards to their one. The fans were hooting and hollering at each other. We were dealing with a lot of factors out of our control, but I was proud of our players. They didn’t panic. They fought through and persevered to get that win.”
North Branch 2, Princeton 1
For the third game in a row, the Vikings scored a goal in the second half to break a 1-1 tie. This time, Emmie Meyer provided the winning strike. The Princeton Tigers were the victims this time, giving the Vikings their third straight 2-1 win. The game was played Monday, September 14 at Princeton High School.
The Vikings again scored first, as Lilly Johnson cleared herself from the defense on the left side of the box and knocked a shot past the goalie for a 1-0 lead. A mental error at midfield later in the half led to the tying goal by the Tigers. With about ten minutes left in the game, Meyer put the ball up and over the keeper at the far post to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead. The Vikings kept up the pressure for the rest of the game, never giving the Tigers a chance to get back in it.
Viking head coach Josh Kopp said “We don’t seem to play as well on natural grass, like they have at Princeton. We played one of our poorer games in the first half. Princeton plays a defensive style. After they tied it up, they went to five defensive backs, seemingly willing to settle for a tie. Our players were a little bit down at halftime, but we came out in the second half, played better, and pounded the net. We had three games in a row where we had to battle, sometimes against ourselves. But we persevered. We may not have done that in the past couple of years. We fixed things in the second half and played to win instead of panicking and playing not to lose.”
With just five games remaining in the regular season and the postseason still up in the air, the Vikings (4-2-0) will host Big Lake (3-1-1) tonight at 7 p.m. at North Branch High School. The Vikings have tied Big Lake each of the last two years, and the winner of this game will keep their hopes alive for a Mississippi 8 Conference championship. “It’s a tough conference this year,” said Kopp. “Even the teams who haven’t been winning much have been playing competitively – there haven’t been too many blowouts.”
Next Tuesday, September 22 the Vikings will head to Becker for a rematch with the Bulldogs at 7 p.m.
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