by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Two groups of girls who’ve been friends since childhood, in many cases teammates as well, dueled each other Saturday for high stakes, a chance to play for a section soccer championship.
The Elk River Elks prevailed 2-1 in a game as close as it sounds, leaving the Rogers Royals as the team with the misty eyes and aching hearts, at Rogers.
“Both teams played their hearts out,” said Maddie Pippin, who scored Rogers’ goal. “It’s really hard (to lose).”
In a game where both teams’ big guns were blanked, Elk River’s goals came from eighth-grader Shayne Schoenfelder (her first) and senior Erin Ness (her second), while Pippen, a key defender for Rogers, got her first.
“That’s not the way you would have planned it,” acknowledged Elk coach Brian Steuter.
About the hard-fought game, Steuter said, “We knew it would be like that. It always is with these two teams.”
Rogers beat the Elks 3-1 in Elk River on Sept. 28, part of an eight-game win streak by the Royals, but the Elks won the all-important rematch. Steuter said it was mainly a matter of the winning team “getting the right bounces” in each case.
“They beat us before and we really wanted to get them back,” said Ness.
No. 3 seeded Elk River (9-6-3) advances to the section finals against No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville (12-3-3), which ousted No. 4 Moorhead 2-0. That match will be held Tuesday in St. Michael. The Star News does not have information on game time at this posting.
Rogers, seeded second, bows out with an 11-7 record and a share of the Mississippi 8 championship.
“These teams know each other really well,” said Steuter. “They’ve played together (on TRSA teams). I coached a lot of the Rogers girls when they were 13.”
Rogers sophomore Jenna Breseman, who totaled 16 goals this year, and Elk senior Logan Daulton, who has 13 goals, didn’t find the back of the net. Both had a couple chances but missed.
Rogers put defensive stopper Abbie Gearou on Daulton and, with some help from teammates, kept her off the scoreboard for the second time this year.
“Abbie’s a great player,” said Steuter, “and she did a good job both games. But I think they (the Royals) have to so some things (defensively) that they don’t want to do, because of Logan.”
Schoenfelder scored in the 30th minute, hustling to join the action in front of the net after starting the play with a corner kick. She put a good leg on the ball from the right side, connecting on the Elks’ third shot in that sequence.
Rogers had three couple just-misses in the first half as Janelle Rouilard was a little high on a one-on-one breakaway, Breseman drilled one from the side that struck the outside half of the far post, and Quiltavalle hit a nice looper just a tad too hard, hitting the top of the crossbar.
Elk goalie Megan Marsh also foiled several attempts in the game by hustling out to smother the ball.
Pippin knotted the score on a free kick from the top of the box in the 61st minute, steering the ball just under the bar and just beyond Marsh’s reach.
However, the tie lasted only 61 seconds before Ness scored on a header off a corner kick from Brianna Anderson with 18:06 left.
“Give a lot of credit to Bri for putting that corner kick right on Erin’s head,” said Steuter.
Ness, senior midfielder, has only two goals, both of them game-winners. She had the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Sept. 30.
Rogers goalie Olivia Johnson was credited with 16 saves, but the two that got past her were quick, well-placed shots.
It was the final game for three-year letter winners Pippin, Jenna Trochlil, Tessa Qiuntavalle, Linsi Osland and Janaye Rouillard, the latter of whom left with a knee injury with 11 minutes remaining. Alissa Graham is the other senior in her finale.