Expectations add extra pressure, but it wasn't an issue for the Alexandria girls soccer team on Tuesday night. The Section 8A-North's second seed beat Pelican Rapids 10-0 on their home turf in the first round of the section tournament to advance to the quarterfinals.
It didn't take long for the Cardinals to get on the scoreboard. Senior Forward Allie Randazzo connected on a crossing pass from senior Emma Reineke to take a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the contest. Eight minutes later, sophomore forward Ella Westlund scored her first of three goals with an assist from Sophia Korynta.
Westlund struck again before the midway point of the first half before senior Molly Panther and senior Kamryn Coauette extended the lead to 5-0. Alexandria's scoring depth has been a strength all season and didn't disappoint in its first-round matchup.
"We can rely on our teammates because everybody is going to have a bad game at some point," Randazzo said. "We have girls that can pick me up, and I'm there to pick them up. It doesn't matter who scores. We want to make sure we can finish our chances in each game."
Seniors Aubrey Kosters, Morgan Jones and Reineke all added second-half goals on the way to a 10-0 win. Alexandria's team speed is a strength they've utilized before and will use it again as they move through the section playoffs.
"We have a very athletic team," head coach Tom Roos said. "We have a team that's fast, physical and strong. All of our players are capable of playing physically and being strong on the ball. That athleticism and speed is something we saw in tryouts. That's part of what this team is, and they use it with purpose."
In high scoring games, it's easy to point towards the offensive third of the field and dissect what went right. However, Randazzo understands that her opportunities to score wouldn't be possible without the Cardinals taking care of the ball on the defensive side of the pitch.
"They're extremely vocal and supportive for us, and we notice that," Randazzo said. "They're very good at finding the splits with their through balls while finding opportunities for some long balls. All of our defenders are great at that. Our midfielders are amazing with their control in the middle of the field and versing the ball up the field. We all attack together and defend together, and that's something we've really worked on this year."
Getting the monkey off their back was the goal for the Cardinals heading into Tuesday's game. Even though they had expectations of winning, nothing is guaranteed come playoff time.
"This is our first playoff win in several years," Randazzo said. "We went into this game super excited. Walking off this field with a victory gives us the confidence and excitement going into our next game on Thursday. We are pumped up and excited for each other for how we played and were able to stay strong and pull out this victory."
Alexandria didn't match up with Pelican Rapids during the regular season. With the season on the line against an unfamiliar team, the Cardinals stuck to their game plan to advance to the quarterfinals.
"Our focus was not to worry about them," Roos said. "We were confident that if we took care of our own business and played the way we are capable of playing, we would be fine in this game. It certainly gets tougher from here on out."
The Cardinals (7-1-3) will now get third-seeded Detroit Lakes (9-1-1) back at AAHS on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Lakers beat Fergus Falls in a 2-1 game during their opening game of the playoffs on Tuesday.
ALEXANDRIA 10, PELICAN RAPIDS 0
SCORING- FIRST HALF- Alexandria- Allie Randazzo (Emma Reineke) 31:02; Alexandria- Ella Westlund (Sophia Korynta) 23:32; Alexandria- Westlund (Morgan Jones) 20:42; Alexandria- Molly Panther (unassisted) 19:31; Alexandria- Kamryn Coauette (Randazzo) 9:59; SECOND HALF- Alexandria- Wesltund (Kylee James) 36:08; Alexandria- Aubrey Kosters (Reineke) 31:35; Alexandria- Jones (Sadie Boraas) 18:44; Alexandria- Reineke (Coauette) 13:57; Alexandria- Jones (unassisted) 10:03