by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s state tournament adventure in girls soccer lasted just one game as the Minnetonka Skippers shut down the Elks 3-0 on Tuesday evening.
The Elks managed only three shots on goal, none of them close-range, against one of the most difficult teams in the state to score against, on a 35-degree evening at St. Cloud State.
“They are a very good team, all the way around, everything we expected,” said Elk coach Brian Steuter. “They possess the ball so well, which cuts down on defensive plays they have to make.”
Steuter said the Elks played with toughness, pride and energy, and just ran into “a team that was better than us today.”
The Elks, outshot 24-6 overall, were Minnetonka’s 12 shutout victim and fourth in a row.
The Skippers, led by this year’s Ms. Soccer pick, Elizabeth Endy, are 15-2-2 and have allowed only eight goals in 19 matches.
While Minnetonka goalkeeper Katie McMillian had three saves, the Elks’ Megan Marsh faced nine shots on goal and stopped six.
Ellen Mau got Minnetonka on the board in the ninth minute as she carried the ball toward the net and shot from the left side to the far corner.
The Skippers got another goal just 1:53 before halftime that was “deflating” for the Elks, when Molly Pitzele fielded a through ball from Libby Patterson and pumped it past Marsh from the front of the net.
“We could have gone to halftime only down 1-0, and that second goal was mentally draining,” acknowledged Steuter. “But we still played hard in the second half and no one gave up.”
Endy, also the Star-Tribune Metro Player of the Year, was impressive throughout with her long strides, light feet and superb body control.
Though primarily a defender, she played up most of the game and gave the Skippers a 3-0 lead in the 47th minute, taking a long pass from Sarah Nyberg about eight feet from the net and threading her shot between the post and Marsh.
“He (Minnetonka coach Jeff Hopkins) did that the last game, too, put her more in the offensive side. I though we handled her pretty well overall.”
The Elks finished the season 10-7-3. They had been 7-2-2 in their last 11 matches.
It was the last go-around for seniors Lexi Dietl, Jenny Kively, Erin Ness, Mallory Adams, Sabrina Silver, Taylor Warner, Courtney Madden, Rachel Mynahan, Meagan Marsh, and coaches association all-stater Logan Daulton.
“We had a very good season, where the girls really came together, with the same goals,” said Steuter. “It’s something they can look back on as a good memory.”
The Elk River-Zimmerman boys will play in the state tournament Thursday evening against Edina at Park High School in Cottage Grove, 7:30 p.m.