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Echo Press photo by Eric Morken Gracie Bruzek (6) cleared the ball for the Cardinals, who upset Fergus Falls in the Section 8A playoffs last Thursday. They played St. Cloud Apollo yesterday in the semifinals.

Girls' soccer: Card girls upset second seeded Otters

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Girls' soccer: Card girls upset second seeded Otters
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

The Alexandria girls' soccer team used a huge save from Catherine Keenan and two goals from Nikki Hammond to upset Fergus Falls in the Section 8A playoffs last Thursday night.

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Hammond got the scoring going for Alexandria in the 15th minute of play. After causing a turnover, Hammond dribbled into the Otter penalty area and sent in a shot that found the back of the net from 15 yards out.

That led to the early lead the Cardinals were looking for. Within the first minute of the second half, Hammond gave them the insurance goal they ended up needing. She sent the ball to Kate Gearman on the opening kick of the second half. Gearman sprinted down the right side. She got loose after a scrum with the Otter defense and sent a shot off the cross bar. Hammond was right there for the rebound. Her goal gave her team a 2-0 lead and all the momentum.

Then it was Keenan's turn to help secure the win. With 10 minutes left to play and the Cardinals holding onto the two-goal lead, the Otters were awarded a penalty kick for a push in the penalty area. The Fergus Falls shooter stepped up and drilled a low drive at the net. Keenan dove to her right and fully extended her body enough to get her hands on the ball and knock it free. Ally Nielson then crashed the net and cleared the loose ball before the Otter attackers could get to it.

That save and clear by Nielson would prove essential to the win. Fergus Falls got on the board five minutes later on a free kick from 22 yards out. That would be the final goal of the game as the Cardinals held and advanced to the Section 8A semifinals where they would take on another Central Lakes Conference foe in St. Cloud Apollo.

"There were a number of things that I am pleased with," head coach Tom Roos said. "Everyone sees [Catherine's] great penalty kick save and Nikki's big goals. Often it is the little things that go unnoticed that make a big difference. Like Ally Nielson's heads-up play to rush in and clear the penalty kick rebound, and forward Emily Funk stepping hard to beat Otter defenders to loose balls.

"All season long, I have been working with defenders to make defensive clearing headers when needed and we were seeing Beth Rindy, Sam Berglin and Ally Nielson willing to make those plays when they weren't at the start of the season."

The contest against the Eagles was to take place last night, Tuesday. The Cardinals had lost two close games against Apollo during the regular season this year.

SECTION 8A

GIRLS' SOCCER

UPPER BRACKET

1. St. Cloud Apollo, 2. Fergus Falls, 3. Alexandria, 4. St. Cloud Cathedral, 5. Minnewaska, 6. Crookston, 7. Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.

OPENING ROUND

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13

St. Cloud Apollo, bye

St. Cloud Cathedral 3, Minnewaska 1

Fergus Falls 4, Hillcrest 1

Alexandria 1, Crookston 0

QUARTERFINALS

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15

St. Cloud Apollo 5, St. Cloud Cathedral 0

Alexandria 2, Fergus Falls 1

LOWER BRACKET

1. East Grand Forks, 2. Sartell, 3. St. John's Prep, 4. Bemidji, 5. Detroit Lakes, 6. Sauk Rapids, 7. Little Falls, 8. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

OPENING ROUND

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13

East Grand Forks 11, Walker-HA 0

Bemidi 3, Detroit Lakes 0

Sartell 2, Little Falls 1

St. John's Prep 2, Sauk Rapids 0

QUARTERFINALS

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15

East Grand Forks 2, Bemidji 0

Sartell-St. Stephen 1, St. John's Prep 0

SEMIFINALS

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20

Alexandria at St. Cloud Apollo

Sartell-St. Stephen at East Grand Forks

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22

CHAMPIONSHIP

Semifinal winners at SCSU, 7:30 p.m.

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