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Card girls' soccer: Alexandria falls to Bemidji in 8A second round

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Cardinals Alexandria, 56308
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

It was a pair of evenly matched teams that squared off Saturday at Lincoln Field as Alexandria hosted Bemidji in the second round of the Section 8A girls' soccer tournament, and after 80 full minutes of battle, the Lumberjacks snuck away with a 1-0 victory over the Cards.

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The only goal of the game came with four minutes remaining as Bemidji's Erin Booth dribbled through a field of Cardinal defenders and sliced a ball in from the left 12 yards out.

"The Cards played what might have been their strongest game of the season, outshooting Bemidji 26-16," said Alexandria head coach Tom Roos, "applying intense pressure all night in the offensive end, but just not able to get the ball in the net."

Alexandria had its opportunities as Gabby Koel created one in the first half, getting the ball deep down the left side and cutting toward the goal before placing a cut pass across the goal area.

"Mikayla Lucas, who had Bemidji goalkeeper Casey Palmer beat, saw her shot fly just inches above the crossbar.

In the second half, Anna Spanbauer sped past Bemidji's outside defense and had an open opportunity, but wasn't able to capitalize with a goal.

The Cardinals also had four corner kick opportunities in the second half, but couldn't convert.

"Lucas and Leah Stinson did a nice job of sending in crosses, two of which Lauren Trumm jumped high above the defenders to connect on headers," said Roos, "both going just over the goal."

With four minutes remaining in the game, Alexandria had every player pushing up the offense, but couldn't tie the game.

"Bemidji had two 20-goal scorers on their team in Erin Booth and Josie Spry," said Roos. "For 76 minutes, the Alex defense did a great job of limiting the number of strong scoring opportunities from Bemidji."

Kassandra Kriese and Trumm played key roles in successfully marking those two players up to the time of the goal.

Cardinal goalkeeper Sarah Bruzek made 14 saves in the game, with Bemidji's Palmer stopping 20 shots.

"Prior to the start of the season, this group defined what kind of team they wanted to be," said Roos. "They set very high expectations, then went out and lived up to the standards that they set for themselves.

"It was a team based on respect for each other - one where team goals were more important than individual goals. Teammates celebrated successes together and when things didn't bounce our way on the field, teammates had each other's backs instead of pointing fingers at each other.

"It was a team that played with class and integrity, and earned its second straight CLC sportsmanship award in doing so," he said.

"Finally, if you were lucky enough to see Saturday's game, you saw a team that knew how to battle. For 80 minutes straight, they battled with intensity and tenacity and never once let up.

"While players walked off that field broken-hearted with the loss, they certainly deserve to hold their heads up with pride," Roos said. "From the way they played that last game to their accomplishments all season long, on and off the game field.

"Seniors who were instrumental in defining this team and the season were Ashley Vanderveur, Leah Stinson, Mikayla Lucas, Brook Aaberg, Kassandra Kriese, Hannah Krivanek, Heidi Krueger, Tara Petersen and Lauren Trumm."

The Cardinals finished the season with a 10-5-3 overall and 6-4-2 conference record.

ALEXANDRIA 1, WHA 0

No. 2 seeded Alexandria hosted ninth seed Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Thursday night and emerged with an unusual 1-0 victory.

It was unusual in the fact that the Cardinals did not allow WHA a single shot on goal, while Alexandria peppered Wolves goalkeeper Jessica Capinski with 35 shots, but were able to come up with just one goal.

"Soccer can be a peculiar game," said head coach Tom Roos. "Perhaps more than in any other sport, one team can show total domination with little or nothing to show from it."

First half statistics showed Alexandria with 17 shots on goal and a scoreless tie.

"In the second half, the Cards played stronger in possessing the ball and continued to get chances," said Roos. "Six minutes into the half, Alexandria scored the only goal of the night when Gabby Koel attacked from the left side and sent in a great pass to Anna Spanbauer, who scored from eight yards out."

The Cardinal defense was strong throughout the game, rarely allowing the Wolves to cross into the defensive end.

This was the seventh shutout of the season for Alexandria keeper Sarah Bruzek, who earned the 1-0 win without having touched the ball.

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Sports Editor Lori Mork on Twitter at @morkwriter.

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