by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A pulverizing shot by Logan Daulton in sudden-death overtime lifted Elk River to a 2-1 upset of Rogers as soccer playoffs opened Thursday.
It was an giddy victory for the defending Section 8AA champion but sixth-seeded Elks, breaking a four-year losing streak against Rogers including a 3-1 loss earlier this year.
“We knew we had it in us, and we thought we should have beaten them last time,” said Daulton, a speedy sophomore who had both goals. “This was the fourth year in a row we lost to them, but we won this time!”
And it was a distressing finish for Rogers, which won the state Class A championship last year but made a first-round exit this year and was 0-3-2 its last five matches, scoring only four goals.
“When our offense is clicking, we create magic,” said coach Holly Sutton, “but we’ve gotten into a panicky state where we tried to force the magic and it didn’t work.”
She added: “We knew it would b e tough. We have a young team this year and not used to the mental stress of high competition. It was a building year for us.”
Rogers finished 8-7-2 and had to relinquish its conference title, too, during the slump late in the year.
Elk River, which had a terrible start this year, going 0-5 with just one goal, is now at 6-10-1. The Elks will play at top-seeded Anoka on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Elks beat the Tornados (8-5-4) in conference play 3-1. The other semifinal will have Moorhead at St. Michael-Albertville.
While Daulton boosted the Elks on the offensive end, junior goalkeeper Brienna Dehkes anchored a stout defensive effort, making several tough stops, including three on scorching shots by Royal star Jessica Bianchi in the last 10 minutes.
“This feels super good,” said Dehkes. “We had not beaten them in four years and they won state last year, so it’s pretty big.”
The Daulton shot that ended the game was a boomer from about 15 yards out, slightly right of the goal, off a pass from Jenna Kivley, above the reach of goalie Jacqueline Zoubek and high into the net.
The game was scoreless for about 60 minutes before Daulton, who leads the Elks with six goals, put her team on the board with a blast from the right side. Abby McDonald got the ball to her from the inside, passing out while Dault broke toward the middle.
Rogers knotted the score when junior attacker Sydney Grover got hold of a loose ball on the left side of the net and fired it past a diving Dehkes to the far past, with 10 minutes left.
Dehkes took a big risk that paid off shortly after, as she dashed out to cover a through ball that speedy Rogers attacker Gabby Moter was bearing down on. Dehkes got their a split second ahead.
On the other end, Zoubek made two tough saves in the 77th minute, snagging a point-blank shot by Daulton, and moments later knocking away a missive from McDonald — after which Emily Lewis pounced on rebound and ripped a wide-open shot that missed by a couple inches.
Another terrific save was made by Rogers eighth-grade defender Abby Gearou earlier in the half, cutting in front of an attacker right at the net.
Steuter said his team did “a lot of the same stuff as the first game, but we just got some finishes this time.”
Rogers at least had the consolation of having gone all the way last year, Sutton said.
“In the end, these girls have experienced something that’s the highest of he highest, that most people never get to experience,” she said.
“But it’s tough to be over so soon.”