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home : sports : sports
December 5, 2021

10/1/2021 12:59:00 PM
North Branch loses their first games of the year

Monticello 3, North Branch 2
The Vikings lost for the first time this season last Thursday, September 23, falling 3-2 to the Monticello Magic at Monticello Middle School.

The Vikings got on the scoreboard first.  Just five minutes into the game, Lilly Johnson sent a corner kick into the middle of the box and Ava Gerten deflected it into the net to give the Viking a 1-0 lead.  Viking goalkeeper Sharis Garcia Velazquez, an eighth grader, made a great save in the first half to keep the score at 1-0. But the Magic scored two soft goals in the first ten minutes of the second half to go up 2-1 and added a penalty kick to make it 3-1.  Later in the half, a Viking player was fouled in the Monticello box and eighth-grader Sharleen Garcia Velazquez converted the penalty kick to cut the Magic lead to 3-2.  But that was as close as the Vikings got, as Monticello hung on for the win.

Viking head coach Josh Kopp said “In the second half, Monticello came out fast and aggressive and it took us ten minutes to get back into it.  By that time, they were up by a goal.  You can’t afford a lapse like that when you are playing a good team.  It was a close game back and forth.  After they went up 3-1, our girls started to take the momentum back.  But we still ended up a goal short.”

St. Francis 1, North Branch 0
St. Francis’ Lilly Micheals scored the only goal of the game with 15 minutes left in the second half, and the fifth-ranked St. Francis Fighting Saints went on to beat the Vikings 1-0 Monday, September 27 at North Branch High School.

The Vikings had a couple of great scoring chances in the first minute of the game, including a ball that hit the right post and bounced away.  In the seventeenth minute, the Saints sent a crossing pass into the middle of the Viking box and a Saint’s forward redirected a hard one timer at the net.  But Viking goalkeeper Sharis Garcia Velazquez was in great position and move a little to her left.  The ball bounced off her shoulder and out of harms way, and the game remained scoreless.

Six minutes into the second half, the Vikings appeared to take the lead.  They had a free kick from about 40 yards out.  Lilly Johnson sent the ball through the wall about 20 yards away, and the Vikings put it in the net.  But a Viking player was about two yards offsides on the play, so the goal was disallowed, and the game remained scoreless.
The Vikings’ lack of depth eventually caught up with them.  The Saints were able to keep the ball in the Viking end for long stretches in the second half, wearing down a tiring Viking squad.  With about 15 minutes left in the game, the Vikings had a free kick deep in their own end.  The ball was blocked and bounced back into the box.  The Saints’ Lilly Micheals corralled the ball in the middle of the box, shielded it from Viking defenders, created a little opening for herself, spun and fired the ball past keeper Garcia Velazquez and into the net to put the Saints up 1-0.  The Vikings did manage to move the ball up the field after that, but never seriously threatened to score, going down to defeat for the second game in a row.

Viking head coach Josh Kopp said “When players get fatigued, they are physically tired and decision-making starts to get questionable, which contributed to their goal.  And St. Francis is the best team we have played so far this year.  They have only given up three goals so far this season and we had a couple of excellent scoring opportunities that we did not convert.  St. Francis is relentless and grinds down their opponents.  Overall, I am happy with the way we played.  And we need to play well against good teams like this to learn how to get to the next level – coaches and players alike.”

Soccer Stuff
The Vikings (9-2-1) will head to Lindstrom tonight to play the Wildcats (6-5-0) at 7 p.m. at Chisago Lakes High School.  On Wednesday, they will go to Princeton High School to take on the Tigers (3-5-1) at 5 p.m.

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