by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s hopes of pulling out a conference title in boys soccer were dimmed as the Elks had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Champlin Park, a team low in the standings, at home Tuesday evening.
Champlin Park is 2-6-1 in conference and 3-9-1, but the Rebels deadlocked the Elks, 10-1-3 overall and ranked No. 6 in QRF ratings.
The Elks will finish conference play at Maple Grove on Thursday. In NWSC play, Blaine is 7-0-1, Anoka 7-2, the Elks 6-1-2, and Maple Grove 6-2-1. Blaine still has Champlin Park and Andover on the schedule. Anoka still has Centennial.
“We have five shutouts in our last six games, but we are not finding the back of the net,” said Elk coach Aaron Lindquist. “It’s something we work on at practice daily, but we have to execute in the game. We are getting plenty of chances to score, but need to be more clinical. We have been trying to score highlight goals when all we need are goals.”
The Elks have eight shutouts, including four in a row, while allowing just eight goals in 14 games. They are 5-0-1 in the last six games, with three 1-0 wins, a 2-1 win and a 2-0 win.
Champlin Park applied some good pressure and ball movement early in the game and frustrated the Elks attack. Cody Christ came up with two big saves in the first half.
The Elks changed their approach tactically in the second half and found more success. Freshman Protus Babaya had two strong shots on goal, requiring great saves by the goaltender. Grant Tesdahl played well in the midfield as did Tanner Beckerleg in defense. The Elks were missing Ryan Stefano, captain and starting center midfielder who has played almost every minute this season.
Champlin Park played with five defenders most of the game and dropped a sixth defender in the back late in the game and overtime.