Girls soccer: Trojans snap winless streak
WORTHINGTON — Worthington head coach Emily Ahlquist was on her way home from the Trojans’ season-opening loss last Thursday when she had an epiphany.
“I was thinking about how we got out to such a sluggish start in the first half and I started talking to my husband about how we run our practices,” she said. “We usually start with a run but it’s usually not very fast. I decided I’d do something right away that would really get them going. So, we did that both Friday and (Monday) and then we ended with a run at the end of practice when we were worn down. It seems to have helped. That’s probably the strongest start I’ve seen in a long time.”
The Trojans came out aggressive Tuesday and never let up on the intensity. The result was a 1-0 nonconference win over Glencoe-Silver Lake. The win marked the end of a 22-game winless streak that dated back to Sept. 6, 2012.
Even more important than the win, perhaps, is the emotional effect it might have on the team moving forward.
“It will definitely help our morale,” Ahlquist said. “It showed us that we can do it and that we can be competitive with these other teams. It will give us confidence and that’s the biggest thing.”
Offensively, Worthington opened the game with a break-neck approach, pushing the ball hard into the Panthers’ zone on nearly every possession. Ahmitara Alwal nearly gave the Trojans the lead just four minutes into the contest when she broke into a one-on-one with G-SL goalkeeper Zoe Christensen. The Worthington sophomore sent a hard shot toward the top of the net, but Christensen leapt up and tipped it over the crossbar to keep the game scoreless.
Senior forward Anita Castillo changed all that just a few minutes later. On a throw in from the sideline, she out-ran the Panther defense and worked her way open on the right side. She sent a laser into the upper right corner of the net to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead just nine minutes into the contest.
“It’s not my first time scoring but it’s a great start with this team,” Castillo said. “I’m happy and excited for the season. I was kind of nervous (on the scoring play) but I just sped up to the ball and I did it.”
Although the score never changed after that, it certainly wasn’t the last Worthington opportunity. Christensen turned in a whale of a game for her team between the pipes, leaping and diving all over the place for a total of 10 saves.
“They have an incredible keeper,” Ahlquist said. “We had a lot of opportunities and she just made some great plays.”
The Trojan defense wasn’t too shabby itself. For the second game in a row to start the season, eighth-grade goalkeeper Keryri Gutierrez tallied double digits in the saves category. Tuesday, she finished with 15 saves including a key stretch of three stops with the Panthers peppering her as time ran low. Helping her deep in the Worthington zone was junior sweeper McKayla Gravenhof, who ran interference on what could have been plenty of opportunities for G-SL.
Ahlquist said it was just a matter of her team doing what it had to after losing to G-SL for the first time ever in 2013.
“Yesterday when we were running sprints I kept yelling at them, ‘Get there before the Glencoe player,” she said. “They just came out hyped up and ready to do it.”
Worthington (1-1 overall, 0-0 Big South) will try to keep the momentum moving forward at 6 p.m. Thursday in Waseca. The Bluejays ousted Worthington from the postseason last year after winning the South Central Conference title.
But before turning her attention to Waseca, Castillo wanted to savor Tuesday’s victory.
“It’s priceless,” she said. “It’s just awesome. Everybody played good.”
G-SL 0 0 — 0
WHS 1 0 — 1