by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Morgan Pierson’s fifth goal gave Elk River-Rogers-Zimmmerman a 10-9 lead and her team held on to edge the Becker Bulldogs by that score in their section opener Tuesday.
ERZ (9-5) grabbed a quick 5-1 lead at Becker, but the Bulldogs gradually seized the momentum and tied the score three times, at 7-7, 8-8 and 9-9.
Pierson had a goal disallowed because a Bulldog fouled her before the shot, but she was awarded the penalty shot and sneaked it past Becker goalie Aubrey Lambert with 4:42 left.
ERZ was then able to keep the ball in their end most of the time remaining, but missed two close-range shots and Becker got the ball back with 42 seconds left when ERZ was called for a cross cover (illegally covering an opponent’s stick).
Becker’s Sam Hultgren sped with the ball all the way to the other end and circled the ERZ goal, but just when the Bulldogs were ready to attack, they were called for offsides, having one too many players in the scoring zone, with 19 seconds left.
ERZ was able to hang on to the ball until the buzzer as the playoff thriller ended with them on top by one.
ERZ coach Jeannette Bankes said her team was not “checking in the sphere” effectively when Becker charged from behind to tie the score.
“The momentum turned when we started getting some calls,” said Bankes. “And then we had to slow it down (at the end). I kept yelling to slow it down, and we were able to do that.”
Pierson had two assists along with her five goals, while Emily Antony notched four goals and two assists, and Kayla Mills one goal and two assists. Goalie Samantha Geissler stopped 17 shots.
For Becker (8-5), Josie Kent notched four goals, and Kristy Henkel and McKenzie Neu added two each. Lambert made 12 saves.
Close games have been the norm for ERZ, whose 9-5 record includes seven wins by one goal, and two losses by one goal. They edged Becker 13-12 in overtime on May 13.
“The teams have gotten so good, it’s a very competitive district,” said Bankes.
The victory earned ERZ a match with No. 2 ranked Eden Prairie there on Thursday, 7 p.m.