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home : sports : sports
October 27, 2021

9/17/2021 12:40:00 PM
North Branch stays unbeaten, looking to enter state rankings

North Branch 0, Grand Rapids 0 (OT)
The Viking girls’ soccer team outplayed and outshot the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks at home on Tuesday, August 31, but when it was all over the teams settled for a 0-0 overtime tie.  Viking head coach Josh Kopp said “We outshot them 30-10, including about 18-4 in shots on goal.  We had eight corner kicks but couldn’t finish any of them.  It was one of those games where we found everything but the back of the net.”

North Branch 6, North St. Paul 0
The Vikings scored five times in the first 15 minutes of the game against North St. Paul and went on to shut out the Polars 6-0 Thursday, September 2 at North Branch High School.  Viking head coach Josh Kopp said “North St. Paul has been a good soccer school in the past, but they are down competitive-wise this year.  After we got the big lead early, we took the rest of the game to work on some things.”

Emmie Meyer scored twice for the Vikings, and Lilly Johnson, Sharleen Garcia Velazquez, Ava Gerten and Ava Mohs had one goal apiece.  Danna Garcia Velazquez had two assists, and picking up one assist each were Paris Kopp, Sharleen Garcia Velazquez, and Meyer.

North Branch 2, Forest Lake 1
Forest Lake scored on a penalty kick to take a first half lead, but Emmie Meyer and Ava Gerten scored in the second half to lead the Vikings to a 2-1 over the Rangers Tuesday, September 7 at Forest Lake.  The game was not played under the greatest conditions and included a 40-minute weather delay.

Just five minutes into the first half, a foul in the Viking box gave the Rangers a penalty kick, and Natalie Daniels converted it to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.  In the second half, Danna Garcia Velazquez sent a pass across the field to Emmie Meyer, who scored on a beautiful shot from 30 yards out to tie the game at 1-1.  Later in the half, Abby Randall sent a crossing pass through the Forest Lake box, and Ava Gerten ran it down and directed into the net with her chest to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.

The Vikings had 18 shots on goal to just four for the Rangers.  “We played really well defensively,” said Viking head coach Josh Kopp.  “We put in a high-pressure line, and they had trouble getting it out of their own end.  One thing we have taken away from our games is that we have to take quality shots and execute.  Otherwise, the last five minutes of the game is more exciting than it needs to be as we try to protect a one-goal lead.”

North Branch 5, Cambridge-Isanti 0
The Vikings scored three times in the first half and twice in the second half to crush the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets 5-0, remaining undefeated so far this season with a 6-0-1 record.  “All five of our goals were gorgeous goals,” said Viking head coach Josh Kopp.  The game was played at North Branch High School last Thursday, September 9.

Ava Gerten scored twice.  Both goals were free kicks from 20-25 yards out that went in six inches under the crossbar.  Sharleen Garcia Velazquez sent a crossing pass a couple of yards outside the Cambridge box, and her sister Danna one-timed the ball just under the crossbar from about 20 yards out to make it 3-0.  In the second half Lilly Johnson sent a ball from down low to high in the Cambridge box.  Sharleen Garcia Velazquez volleyed the ball over the goalie’s head and into the back of the net to increase the Viking lead to 4-0.  And the final goal was scored when a ball that was in the Bluejacket box came out to Payten Verdon well outside the box.  She lofted a ball from 35 yards out that dropped over the keeper’s head and into the net to make it 5-0.

Kopp said “Cambridge was more athletic and speedier than we anticipated.  They are also very aggressive, picking up three yellow cards in the game.  So far this season, things are going well.  We have only given up five goals in seven games, and two of those were on penalty kicks.    Our defense is playing well.  They are not giving up many good shots and they are able to apply a lot of pressure.  Rather then dump the ball in and chase it down, we are looking to break down defensive formations and score.  It’s harder for teams to defend a more balanced stye like that.  If you have good defense and a good keeper, you can go a long way.”

Goalkeeper Sharis Garcia Velazquez, an eighth grader, picked up her third shutout of the season.

Soccer Stuff
With 11 goals so far on the season, Gerten is tied to for fifth in the state in scoring.

The Vikings (6-0-1) host the Big Lake Hornets at home tonight at 7 p.m.  On Saturday, they will head north to take on Duluth Marshall in a 1 p.m. matinee.  And on Monday, September 20 the Vikings will head to Becker High School to play the Bulldogs at 7 p.m.

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