by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s girls season, and the Elks’ reign in Section 8AA, ended with a 3-1 loss to the Anoka Tornadoes on Saturday in Anoka.
The Elks, who won this section the last two years, but were seeded sixth, knew it was a game they could win on a good day, because they had beaten Anoka 3-1 on September 13.
But the Tornadoes (9-5-4), who were seeded first in a wide-open section with no powers, dominated the rematch after Logan Daulton scored the first goal of the match for the Elks.
They Tornadoes had 13 shots on goal to five for the Elks.
Anoka coach Paul Anderla noted that the game started the same as the last one, with the Elks scoring first, then Anoka.
“But this time we were able to get the second one, and the third, which was huge, and gave us some breathing room.”
Anderla praised Elk goalie Brienna Dehkes for a leaping save against Katie Jones in the first half.
“That was one of the best saves I’ve seen all year,” he said. “Fortunately we were able to get one past her, and then the second Daulton gave the Elks a 1-0 lead with a strong kick off a feed from Monet Cairns. Daulton, a sophomore, had all three of the Elks playoff goals and led with seven for the season.
The Tornadoes knotted the score on a goal by Amber Wanous, and took the lead when Jones connected in the 28th minute.
“What we wanted to do was sharpen things up, and come with a little more energy,” said Anderla, asked what the difference was in the rematch. “They have some dangerous people and if they get open they are going to bury the ball, as Logan did right away.”
In the second half, the Elks seldom got near the net and Tornado sophomore goalie Katherine Verkulen had an easy time while Diekes on the other end had to make several more stops.
The only second-half goal against Diehkes came on a penalty kick, by Kaylee Benson.
Elk coach Brian Steuter said his team had a good 20 minutes, but struggled after that.
“Anoka played a lot better than we did,” he reflected. “Their passes were crisper, the moved the ball, they overlapped runs, and they set a very good pace,.”
The Elks finished 6-11-1. They were able to play .500 ball after an 0-5 start in which they scored only one goal,. And they had big wins over Anoka and (in they playoffs) Rogers.
The Elks were replacing eight starters, some of them four-year sarters.
“It takes a while to re-adjust,” said Steuter. “We have some hard-working kids. They just have to learn how to win, and how to play in big games. We’ll go back to the drawing board now.”