Prep girls soccer: Worthington plays well in opener
WORTHINGTON — The score didn’t turn out exactly how Worthington would’ve liked, but plenty went right Thursday in its season opener.
Mankato Loyola handed the Trojans a 5-0 non-conference loss. But for the first 70-plus minutes it was really anyone’s ballgame.
Until Loyola’s Emily Gaspar knocked a penalty kick into the right side of the goal in the 72nd minute, Worthington trailed just 3-0. For most of the first half, the game remained scoreless despite what head coach Emily Ahlquist said was a bit of a sluggish start.
“We started out a little slow,” Ahlquist said. “I wasn’t really happy with the way we let them get to every ball and control the game. But after the water break we got it together. In the second half I thought we did a good job going after 50-50 balls and our offense definitely had some opportunities.”
The Trojans nearly took the lead just 11:50 into the contest. Ahmitara Alwal took a nice pass from Achan Alwal and found herself alone with the Crusaders’ keeper. Her shot sailed just right of the goal, however, and the score remained 0-0.
It was still scoreless after Loyola got a nice chance in the 22nd minute. Megan Knutson sent a hard shot at the goal from 25 yards out but Worthington’s Keryri Gutierrez, an eighth-grader making her first varsity start in goal, leapt up and got her finger tips on the shot. It was just enough to deflect the ball into the crossbar and keep the Crusaders off the board.“She did a great job,” Ahlquist said of Gutierrez. “This was her first varsity game. Last year she was the goalie on our C-squad and this is only her second year playing. She has a huge heart, she’s determined and she has an attitude like I’ve never seen. She made a couple incredible saves tonight.”
Knutson finally broke the stalemate at 31:21 when she slid it past Gutierrez after she and Emily Schumacher got past the Worthington defense for a 2-on-1 opportunity. That set the score at 1-0 at the half.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, Loyola was able to add some insurance early in the second. The first came in the 47th minute when Knutson used a little luck to score her second of three goals on the evening. She tried to send a crossing pass from left to right, but the ball caromed hard off a Trojan defender’s side and into the back of the net. Six minutes later, she scored on a corner kick to make it 3-0.
The Trojans got a couple good scoring opportunities on through balls late in the game when Ahmitara Alwal out-ran the Loyola defense. None materialized, however, and Worthington took its first loss of the season.
“It’s only a matter of time until we feel a little more comfortable and those shots will start going in,” Ahlquist said.
Worthington finished the game with seven total shots, three of them on goal. The Crusaders sent it toward the net 26 times with 15 of them requiring intervention. Gutierrez finished with 10 saves for the Trojans.
Worthington (0-1 overall, 0-0 Big South) will be back on its home pitch at 6 p.m. Tuesday when it hosts Glencoe-Silver Lake.
“I’m glad we got the first game under our belt,” Ahlquist said. “That gives us a chance to see how we flow and work as a team. Now we know what we have to do in practice before Tuesday.”
Loyola 1 4 — 5
Worthington 0 0 — 0