by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River-Zimmerman struggled to its second straight loss, after starting the season 3-0, as the Anoka Tornadoes clipped them 2-1 on Tuesday evening at Schempf Field.
“We shut off our brains, and let them dictate play, and lost a game we should have won,” assessed Elk coach Tom Olson. “We just went through the motions.”
The Elks had an impressive 3-0 run in non-conference games before falling to Andover 2-0 last Thursday and now an Anoka team that was 0-4 coming in.
“We are better than the way we are playing right now,” said Olson, “but we need somebody to step up and be a leader.”
Anoka’s Connor Schaaf scored the game-winner in the 76th minute from right in front of the goal, after Jake McElmury drilled a perfect pass to him from the right sideline. Schaaf drew goalkeeper Cody Christ out, and punched it over him.
Breakdowns contributed to that play, said Olson, as three Elks tried to “stab” at the player with the ball, rather than stand their ground in front of them, and each time the Tornado player was able to bolt past them, leading to open looks for both the pass and the shot.
“We are not doing the little things right now,” the coach said.
The Elks will try get back on track in another home game Thursday against Coon Rapids, 5 p.m.
Storm Heyer scored the Elks’ goal in the 30th minute. The speedy junior forward took a pass from Grant Tesdahl and went one-on-one with a defender, beating him to the net, then skidding the ball sharply past the keeper. Heyer has scored three of the Elks’ five goals in the first five outings.
That goal knotted the score 1-1. Anoka’s Roland Oyou had opened the scoring with a goal after running through a gap in the defense. The Tornadoes had another shot hit the post.
The Elks nearly took the lead right before Anoka did in the second half, but a close-range shot by Joey Benz, off a feed from Nelson Valdez, was deflected by the Anoka goalkeeper who got his leg on the ball.
No. 300 for coach
The win was Anoka’s first in five games this year — and the 300th for coach Pete Hayes, who’s in his 25th year at the helm, with nine state tournament trips.
Anoka was off to a very untypical 0-4 start ,and their venerable coach had to wait longer than expected for the milestone win.
Upon the game’s completion, a couple of Tornado parents walked the front of the bleachers hoisting a nice banner commemorating the 300th win.
One of Hayes’ longtime assistants, incidentally, is Wayne Becklin, an ERHS Hall of Fame member.