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Alexandria girls soccer team sees season as work in progress

After losing big pieces from last year's team that made it to the Section 8A semifinal, the Alexandria girls soccer team has some work to do to make a deep run in a new Section 8AA field in 2021.

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Tom Roos (right) walks through a drill with one of his three captains, Kylee James, at the end of the Alexandria girls soccer practice on Aug. 25, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Alexandria Echo Press)

Alexandria girls soccer head coach Tom Roos knows his last year with the Cardinals will see some growing pains, but he's looking forward to watching a young team potentially grow into a contender.

Roos is off to Alexandria Technical and Community College to coach the Legends next fall but is fully committed to the Cardinals for one more season. After a sizeable senior departure from last year, he will try to guide a younger group heading into Saturday's opener at Detroit Lakes.

"I like to say I'm cautiously optimistic," Roos said. "We have pieces, but this is a process. When we have new players, we have to create a new team. We're filling holes and putting players in positions they aren't used to playing yet. It's a process, and I would love to say we are ready to go for our first game, but we're not yet. We're sorting through it, and we're confident that when game time comes on Saturday, we'll be ready."

While he's seen some early growing pains, Roos knows that other teams around the section are also going through them.

"Some teams come back ready to pick up where they left off the previous year, and some aren't," Roos said. "It just depends on who you have graduating. We had a really strong group of seniors that graduated last year, but we feel like we have people to fill holes. But it's going to take time. We have to be patient and let the process take care of itself as opposed to having the expectation that it's going to click right now."

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Sophia Korynta controls the ball from a corner kick at the Alexandria girls soccer practice on Aug. 25, 2021. Korynta played varsity last season in her freshman year. She is one of the returning players to the 2021 team. (Jared Rubado / Alexandria Echo Press)

Alexandria has three captains this season in Kylee James, Ella Westlund and Hayden Morgan. Morgan, a senior, is playing her first year on varsity and was surprised to see herself nominated for the role.

"I didn't think I was going to be a captain because it's my first year on varsity," Morgan said. "I want to be a leader for the younger girls and have them look up to me. I think if we have fun, they're going to have fun too."

Last season ended in heartbreaking fashion at the hands of Bemidji in the Section 8A semifinal. The Cardinals fell in eight rounds of penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regulation. For the girls returning from that team, Roos hopes losses like that keep them hungry.

"We had a very strong team last year that made a deep run in the playoffs," Roos said. "They were on the edge of getting to the section final. We hope that the sense of unfinished business carries over into this season."

Alexandria will be without one of its leading scorers from last year in Morgan Jones, who suffered a season-ending injury.

"Scoring will not come easy for us right away," Roos said. "Our top goal-scorer returning to varsity is out for the season. That's a hard role to fill. I think we're going to have to work through that while being strong and accountable on the defensive end."

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Despite the inexperience, the Cardinals are starting to feel like they're gelling on and off the field. They have taken part in team bonding exercises and are keeping an open mind about the road ahead.

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Hayden Morgan prepares to head to head the ball towards the goal at an Alexandria girls soccer practice on Aug. 25, 2021. Morgan is a captain in her first year on the varsity roster. (Jared Rubado / Alexandria Echo Press)

"There's a lot of new people on the team, and we haven't all played together before," senior Morgan Sanow said. "I think we all went into this year with an open mind of what we need to do to get better, and we're getting there. We're open to new people and positions. We're adapting how we play."

The Minnesota State High School League added a third class to girls soccer. Much like the Alexandria boys team , the girls find themselves in Class AA with familiar opponents. They will compete against Detroit Lakes, East Grand Forks, Little Falls, St. Cloud Tech, St. Cloud Apollo, Sauk Rapids-Rice, and Rocori for the 8AA crown.

"EGF is strong every year, and I expect them to be pretty good," Roos said. "Tech is a strong team that we've had good battles with. We expect ourselves to be competitive in this section. Sauk Rapids and DL are always respectable, but EGF and Tech are going to be tough."

For now, the Cardinals aren't thinking about the teams in front of them. They're focused on building a deeper connection within their own team.

"We want this to be a family," Morgan said. "I think that starts with encouragement in trying new things and being optimistic about this season. It's going to be a challenge, but we can do this if we play together."

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ALEXANDRIA GIRLS SOCCER ROSTER

SENIORS- Kylie Rasmussen, Kylee James, Morgan Sanow, Joanna Kietzmann, Hayden Morgan, Erika Zick, Elise Tesch; JUNIORS- Alisah Floding, Ella Sorensen, Ella Westlund, Ellen Panther, Sophia Vinje, Alexa Eggebraaten; SOPHOMORES- Elle Heydt, Greta Oldenkamp, Sophia Korynta; FRESHMEN- Allie Haabala; COACHES- Head coach- Tom Roos, Assistant coaches- Tom Smith, Amy Korynta, Katie Lagergren; STUDENT MANAGERS- Jordan O’Kane, Morgan Jones

ALEXANDRIA GIRLS SOCCER SCHEDULE

Aug. 28 at Detroit Lakes, 1 p.m.

Aug. 31 vs. Fergus Falls, 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at St. Cloud Apollo, 7 p.m.

Sept. 9 at St. Cloud Tech, 7 p.m.

Sept. 11 vs. Sartell, 1 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Willmar, 5 p.m.

Sept. 16 vs. Sauk Rapids-Rice, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 vs. East Grand Forks, 7 p.m.

Sept. 23 at Brainerd, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Moorhead, 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 vs. Rocori, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 vs. St. Cloud Apollo, 7 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Little Falls, 1 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. St. Cloud Tech, 7 p.m.

Oct. 7 at Sartell, 5 p.m.

Oct. 14 Section quarterfinals, TBD

Related Topics: SOCCER
Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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