by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A pair of “really pretty goals” helped the Elk River-Zimmerman boys end a week-long slump with 2-1 victory over first-place Coon Rapids at home Thursday.
Ryan Stefano and Storm Heyer scored as the Elks logged their first NWSC win and improved to 4-2 overall, 1-2 in conference.
“We dropped a challenge on the guys after they played poorly against Anoka,” said coach Tom Olson, “and they came out playing real well from the start tonight, challenging for every ball.”
The Elks, coming off somewhat lethargic performances in losses to Andover and Anoka, handed the Cardinals (4-3 overall, 3-1 conference) their first NWSC setback.
Stefano’s goal was set up by a give-and-go play off a throw-in near midfield in the 15th minute. Heyer stepped toward the ball but let it go. Nelson Vadez pounced on the ball and kept an eye on Heyer breaking down the sideline. When Heyer got the ball from Valdez, he broke in free on the corner and steered it past the penalty box to Stefano on the back post. The junior midfielder found the upper corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“Just like it was diagrammed,” said Olson, adding that they’ve tried the same play in two previous games but got the second pass to close to the goalkeepers who thwarted those attempts. “Tonight we pulled it four out enough so the goalie had no play on it.”
Up 1-0 at halftime, the Elks got on the board again when the Cardinals were called for a foul in the 45th minute. Heyer had a direct kick from 19 yards on the right side of the goalie. The junior forward notched his fourth goal of the season with a brisk low kick that bent outside the wall of blockers and curled inside the post.
“We had a couple of really pretty goals tonight,” said Olson. The Elks also had one point-blank shot that hit the goalie and a free kick that hit the crossbar.
Coon Rapids got on the board in the second half, scoring on a direct kick that was inadvertently deflected by one of the Elk blockers away from goalie Cody Christ.
The Elks were able to contain a pair of Cardinal standouts, midfielder V.J. Hachaba and they top scorer Alex Lopez.
The Elks will host St. Michael-Albertville for a twin bill on Saturday, boys at 11 a.m. and girls at 1 p.m.