by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Abby McDonald delivered a goal and assist in her final home game as the Elk River Elks beat Buffalo 3-0 in their Section 8AA opener Thursday evening.
Logan Daulton and Monet Cairns knocked in the other goals for the No. 3 seeded Elks (8-6-1).
McDonad, a four-year starter, called it a good effort against a team the Elks beat 4-2 in overtime in late August.
“We possessed the ball pretty well tonight. We were calm and didn’t try to rush things, and we were hustling, too,” said McDonald.
The Elks (8-6-1) will duel No. 2 Anoka (6-9-1) in the semifinals Saturday, 7 p.m., in Anoka, while No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville (13-1-3) hosts No. 5 Moorhead (8-6-1).
“Going into sections, we have more heart,” said McDonald. “We think we can make it state with hard work.”
The put together two good halves against Buffalo (4-10-3), leading 1-0 at halftime with the wind in their faces.
“We had good ball movement by the girls in the middle of the field,” said coach Brian Steuter. “Brienna Dehkes made a big save just before halftime.”
McDonald got the first goal, set up by Hannah Badrawi’s pass from the middle to the side past the Bison defense. McDonald cut into the middle, drew the goalkeeper out, and right-footed a brisk shot on the ground into the net, her sixth of the year.
Buffalo had its best chance with 10 seconds left in the half when a Bison attacker ripped a shot from 25 yards. Dehkes got a hand on it and pushed it wide.
“You’d hate to give up a one-goal lead just before the half. That was a big save,” said Steuter.
The Elks padded the lead in the final 20 minutes. On a highlight-reel kind of play, a missive by McDonald hit the bottom part of the cross bar and bounced back to the playing field, with Daulton diving head-first for the rebound goal on a perfect header. It was her 11th goal, tops on the team.
Ten minutes later Cairnes, a freshman, scored in a scramble near the net, her first goal.
The Elks also hit the crossbar or post multiple times, who of those by Anna Weeks.
In the semifinals, the Elks lost face an Anoka team that beat them 1-0 on Sept. 4, which is why they got seeded behind the Tornadoes despite a better overall record.
In the other section games, Anoka stopped Rogers 4-1, STMA ousted St. Cloud Tech 6-0 and Moorhead tipped Brainerd 2-0.