by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Logan Daulton had gone six games without a goal but knocked in two of them in her final home appearance, leading Elk River’s 4-1 win over Bemidji in the Section 8AA opener Thursday evening.
Erin Ness and Monet Cairns also found the net as the Elks broke out of a scoring slump with three goals in the last 16 minutes, pulling away from a 1-1 tie, at Jerry Schempf Field.
“I was getting a little frustrated, but I knew we could score,” said Daulton, who has 13 goals in 17 games. “Once we finally got one, we kept going.”
The No. 3 seeded Elks (8-6-3) earned a rematch with No. 2 Rogers (11-5) in the section semifinals Saturday at Rogers, 1 p.m. The Royals, who ousted Buffalo 5-2 Thursday, beat the Elks 3-1 on Sept. 28.
Asked about her emotions playing her final home game of a four-year varsity tenure, Daulton said it hadn’t occurred to her until then.
“That’s sad, but, it’s good, too,” she reflected, “because I wanted to score in my last home game and of course I wanted to win, and that’s what we did.”
Another senior is Rachel Mynahan, third-year starter whom the Elks depend upon help keep things under control in the middle. Mynahan missed a game and a half with a sprained ankle recently, and sprained it again early the second half Thursday, leaving the field in pain, but returned to play most of the half.
“I am a senior, and I’m PLAYING,” Mynahan declared. “It’s really hard to stand and watch.”
Mynahan credited Bemidji with good defensive pressure, but added that the Elks didn’t have clean passes in the first half and did better in that aspect in the second half.
Maea Wall got the No. 6 seeded Lumberjacks (6-11) on the board first, in the first half.
“They’ve got a real nice player up top in that number three, a junior who’s fast and has good skills,” said Elk coach Brian Steuter.
Daulton tied the game 1-1 with a shot off her left instep that went over the goalkeeper, set up by a feed by eighth-grader Shane Schoenfelder from the left side.
In the second half, Lumberjacks goalie Casey Palmer got in Daulton’s way on some scoring chances and Katelyyn Westlund shadowed her effectively through the second half.
But in the 64th minute, when Madison St. German sent a through ball past the midfielders, Daulton finally had a chance to get in a footrace with the defender. Daulton got a step on her and fired a brisk grounder from the right side that eluded the diving goalie, for a 2-1 lead.
“That’s what I love, when I can run and go like that,” Daulton said.
Just four minutes later, Ness found a little opening in the defense from the left side and socked a shot just inside the far post making it 3-1.
And in the 79th minute, Monet Cairns chased down a through ball and outran the defender to the net, where the goalie came out and stopped the first attempt but she pounced on the rebound to punch it in.
The Elks had scored just three goals in their last six regular-season games, going 2-2-2.
“It’s been a while for us,” said Steuter, meaning a strong offensive game, “but we knew we are capable of scoring, and you’ve just got to fight through it. That happens in soccer … The key thing is, what are you doing on defense? If you play good enough defense, you’re still OK. We had some shutouts, too.”