Soccer: Alexandria girls run dominant stretch of play to six straight wins
The Cardinals beat St. Cloud Apollo 6-0 on Thursday and have not allowed a goal since a 2-0 loss to St. Cloud Tech on Sept. 8. They are now 11-1 and have outscored opponents 28-0 in their last six
ALEXANDRIA — The Alexandria girls soccer team has not given up a goal since the Cardinals’ only loss of the season on Sept. 8 against St. Cloud Tech, and that shutout streak ran to six games with a 6-0 win over St. Cloud Apollo on Thursday night.
“We just connect so well,” Alexandria senior defender Ellen Panther said of the Cardinals’ defense. “We’re really controlled. We’re calm and in control. We’re doing really good passing between the defense. Communication is key on defense, and we do that best. It works.”
Alexandria is now 11-1 with 10 shutouts. The Cardinals have given up just four goals all year.
It has gotten to the point where this group is thinking shutout every time they step on the field. It serves as a motivating factor.
“It’s really important to us,” Panther said. “It makes us feel good, makes us look good. We don’t like getting any goals on us. Those first games where they scored on us, those were tough because we wanted to keep that clean slate. But we’ve learned and grown from that.”
Alexandria did not give up a single shot on goal against Apollo. That made for a carefree night for senior goalkeeper Sophia Vinje. That has been the case a lot this season, but Vinje is also an anchor for this team when needed as a starter since her middle school years.
“She is so dependable back there,” Panther said of Vinje.
Junior Sophia Korynta scored the first and fifth goals of the night for Alexandria. Alexa Eggebraaten put the finishing touches on the win by scoring with less than a minute left when she gathered the ball off a free kick from Elle Heydt.
The first half set the tone for this one as the Cardinals went up 3-0 by the break. Senior Morgan Jones found the back of the net off a Heydt assist to make it 2-0, and Brenna Eggebraaten was credited with a goal for Alexandria to make it 3-0 after the ball went off an Apollo player and in.
“It was just us connecting together,” Jones said. “We wanted this game, and we wanted to come out strong offensively and defensively. So really connecting on those passes and those crosses really helped that.”
Ella Westlund converted the team’s fourth goal midway through the second half when a Mackenzie Jurchenko shot hit off the post. Westlund just beat an Apollo defender to the rebound and hammered it in as the two collided.
The Cardinals have been business-like in their approach to games all season. They came into Thursday’s game averaging 4.3 goals and allowing just 0.4. Both numbers are best among the eight Section 8AA teams.
“We always say before a game, ‘You never know.’ You never underestimate a team before you come in,” Panther said. “They could be a team that doesn’t have the best record or a team with a way better record than us, we just go out there and play like it’s any other team and just win.”
Alexandria has risen to the top of the section standings through the QRF on Minnesota-scores.net. The Cardinals are sixth at the Class AA level by that ranking.
East Grand Forks (No. 10 QRF, 7-2-1) and St. Cloud Tech (No. 20 QRF, 7-2-2) are the two teams behind them in the current section pecking order. Alexandria beat East Grand Forks 3-0 on Sept. 20, with the loss to Tech coming in a 2-0 final.
“We took away a lot from that game,” Jones said of the loss to St. Cloud Tech. “We wanted to clean things up, and we did not want to lose any other games this season. That’s our goal, Working together and pushing each other in practice, that’s what really has helped us get these wins.”
Alexandria has outscored opponents 28-0 in its six-game winning streak. The Cardinals have a challenging regular-season schedule left when they host Monticello (10-1-1) at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Monticello, a Section 6AA team, is ranked fifth in the QRF.
Alexandria then goes to St. Cloud Tech on Oct. 4 before a home game on Oct. 6 against a Class AAA, Central Lakes Conference program when Sartell-St. Stephen (11-0-1) comes to AAHS for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Those are three good opponents that should have this team ready for the postseason that starts on Oct. 12.
“We’re just going into the tournament determined,” Jones said. “We want this more than any other team out there. We’ll do whatever it takes to get as far as we can.”