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Blake edges Alex 2-0 despite Bruzek's brilliance in net

The Alexandria girls' soccer team saw its season come to an end Friday night despite the best efforts of Cardinals' junior goalkeeper Sarah Bruzek.

The Blake School came into the opening round of the Class A tournament as the defending state champions and played like it for most of the night. The Bears outshot Alexandria 28-2 but had to hold on for a 2-0 win to advance to Monday's semifinals at the Metrodome.

"Blake is a tremendous team," head coach Tom Roos said. "We aren't used to seeing teams with that much speed and that strong from their last defender up to their top forward. What I'm really pleased about is the difference in how we played from the first half to the second half."

The game could have easily been a 5-0 game by halftime if not for the stellar play of Bruzek in net. The Bears had more than 20 shots in the first 40 minutes but had just one goal to show for it. They needed a breakaway to get that one as Lydia Sutton finally got her team a 1-0 lead with a little more than a minute left before halftime.

"It's just an adrenaline rush when you're a goalie," Bruzek said. "You wait for those chances to make your team win and hold them up. As a goalkeeper, you can't win games but you can save them and that's what I had to do."

Her play left her teammates searching for words on how to describe it after an emotional loss.

"There's really no words, man," senior defenseman Annie Schneiderhan said. "She played crazy back there. A couple of them hit the crossbar but Bruzek in net, she got everything."

She kept Alexandria within one goal until the 73rd minute of play. That's when Sutton scored her second of the night on a ball that bounced off Bruzek and into the net as the two came close to colliding in the box. One of Bruzek's best saves came early in the second half when she dived to her right to make a save that kept it a 1-0 game.

"I have to say, Sarah Bruzek is probably the best soccer player in the state, from what I saw tonight," Roos said. "I can't describe it. I've never seen anything like it."

The Cardinals just couldn't generate enough chances on offense. Alexandria was able to control the ball at times in the second half with the wind at its back. The Bears' team speed just kept them from ever getting a great look at the net.

The Cardinals ended their season with a 14-6-1 record overall. The Bears will move on to play Totino-Grace in the semifinals on Monday morning.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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