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Alex girls' soccer: Spanbauer, defense send girls to 8A finals

Anna Spanbauer (right) continued her strong play in the Section 8A playoffs by scoring the game's only goal against the Green Wave. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

The Cardinal girls' soccer team used its defense to stay in almost every game through the regular season and nothing has changed in the Section 8A playoffs.

That approach had Alexandria just one game away from the state tournament heading into the section finals last night, Thursday. The Cardinals became the first team to shutout the North's top seed East Grand Forks all season as they won 1-0 to advance to the finals.

That set the stage for an all Central Lakes Conference battle to determine who would represent the section at state. Sartell and Alexandria were scheduled to play at St. Cloud State University last night. The Sabres (13-3-2) beat the Cardinals 4-1 on October 4 and the two teams tied 1-1 on September 11.

The Cardinals' defense was kept on its toes through much of the first half as East Grand Forks kept the ball in its offensive zone early. Almost 20 minutes into the game, that changed as Madison Edmond played a ball behind the Green Wave defense.

Junior Anna Spanbauer was the recipient of that as she ran onto the ball and scored past East Grand Forks' Mak Langei.

"EGF's goalie is very active and quick to come off her line to cut off attacks," Alexandria head coach Tom Roos said. "However, this ball from Madison was out of her reach and after coming way off her line, the goal keeper found herself in no-man's land and unable to recover."

Alexandria responded in the second half by putting on some offensive pressure. Spanbauer almost capitalized on another opportunity when she sent a ball off the crossbar.

Alexandria's defense made sure it didn't matter in the end. The Cardinals and goalkeeper Sarah Bruzek were stingy all night as Bruzek recorded her ninth shutout of the season.

The Cardinals went into the section finals winners of five straight games. They had allowed just two goals through that stretch.