Sometimes the ball doesn’t find its way into the back of the net. That was Alexandria’s luck on Thursday night in a 1-0 loss to Sartell in the season opener.
Despite creating a majority of the offensive chances in the second half, the Cardinals came away empty-handed at home.
“We played the way we wanted to in the second half,” head coach Brandon Johnson said. “I was talking to Sartell’s coach after the game, and we talked about how no teams got any preseason scrimmages. We are finding a rhythm in what we want to do. Even though we lost, I think this was a good first game for us.”
Sartell scored the only goal on a defensive breakdown, which led to a breakaway 16 minutes into the first half. Alexandria goaltender Ryan Meuwissen had to come out of the game a few minutes earlier after a collision.
“They got one goal on a breakaway that we should’ve been better on, but that’ll happen,” Johnson said. “I think we started to focus on getting the perfect chances instead of getting the ball on net. We talked about that after the game, and I think the guys know that any shot is better than no shot. If we get the kind of pressure we had on them late, we probably tie this game up.”
Meuwissen took a hard hit on an awkward play that knocked him out of the game for several minutes.
“He was a big dude. I don’t want to run into that guy again,” Meuwissen said. “I saw the ball coming, and there were two people. I was kind of hoping Elijah (Vanderveer) would get the ball. When I saw the play he made, I knew I had to go get the ball. I saw two people on him and went for it. That’s when I got absolutely wrecked.”
While Meuwissen had a rough moment in the first half, he kept Alexandria in the game on Thursday night. He took 13 shots without allowing a goal in 73 minutes of play. Kobe Jensen made a save in relief before Meuwissen came back into the game.
“Ryan is awesome,” Johnson said. “He’s a fearless player, and we love having him back there. You want somebody who is fearless who is always going to go all out. Sometimes you get put to the ground, but he still did well, and we are proud of him.”
Even though the Cardinals allowed 13 shots, it could’ve been much more if not for the defense. As the game wore on, Alexandria defenders played smarter.
“We had two openings on the back end this year,” Johnson said. “Jacob Partington normally played a midfield position for us last year, and he did an excellent job on the back line. Elijah Vanderveer is in his first year with us in this program, and he had an excellent presence. Bjorn Karlstad continues to make plays, and nobody knows how he does it. Jaegar Steele has been rock solid too.”
If the Cardinals want to get in the win column in their next game against Rocori, they’ll need to score some goals.
“I feel like we played a lot more intense and much more together as a team in the second half,” Meuwissen said. “We have to take more shots. Shoot for goals. We can’t score if we don’t shoot. We took a lot more shots in the second half, and hopefully, that carries over to our next game.”