PREP GIRLS' SOCCER: Trojans tame CrusadersWORTHINGTON — When the Worthington girls’ soccer team played a road game against Mankato Loyola on Sept. 10, the Crusaders held home field advantage and eked out a 1-0 win. During Thursday’s rematch at Trojan Field, WHS more than made up for the prior loss with a 5-1 victory.
WORTHINGTON — When the Worthington girls’ soccer team played a road game against Mankato Loyola on Sept. 10, the Crusaders held home field advantage and eked out a 1-0 win.
During Thursday’s rematch at Trojan Field, WHS more than made up for the prior loss with a 5-1 victory.
“We didn’t play our really best game against Loyola when we were up there,” WHS head coach Smitty Ektnitphong said. “I think the girls knew that they had a chance to redeem themselves and that’s what we did today.”
Heading into Thursday’s contest the Trojans had a very upbeat attitude.
“We felt good about it,” WHS senior Paige McCabe said. “We thought that it was going to be a tough game because we did lose to them the first time. We just came in positive and we all talked before the game. We knew that we had a chance and that we were going to try really hard.”
Worthington earned its first goal scoring chances early in the first half with a trio of corner kicks within the opening five minutes. The third corner kick ended with a shot on goal off the head of Alina Keodouangsy, but it sailed over the bar.
McCabe had a pair of great opportunities at the mid-point of the half, but her initial shot on a pinpoint cross from Lydia Kemper was deflected wide and her shot on the ensuing corner missed just high of the top-right corner of the goal.
The Trojans broke through for the opening goal 25:19 into the game on a sensational strike from Kemper.
Receiving the ball on the right-hand side of the goal square, Kemper hit a powerful strike to the bottom left-hand corner of the net that Mankato Loyola goalkeeper Sarah Peller had no chance of reaching.
Netting the first goal of the contest served as a boost for a WHS team that was already thoroughly outplaying the Crusaders.
“Having momentum right away really helped us out a lot, because when a team scores on us we tend to get down on ourselves and that makes them score again,” WHS senior Bernadette Boever said.
Worthington took a 2-0 lead with 3:44 remaining in the half on Sarah Ebbers’ second career goal. Ebbers scored by tapping in the rebound off of a shot by Keodouangsy that forced a diving save by Peller.
The Trojans maintained the momentum by scoring just 23 seconds into the second half.
Carrie Lovan found Keodouangsy got the ball forward with a nice one-two pass, after which Keodouangsy cut through the ML defense for her first score of the contest.
Exactly 10 minutes later, the Crusaders narrowed the lead on a corner kick from Emily Gaspar that was headed in by Aunikah Bastian, but WHS wasn’t finished scoring.
At 14:08 into the half, Worthington was awarded a penalty kick following a collision between McCabe and Peller in the penalty area, but Keodouangsy pulled her penalty kick wide to the left.
However, Keodouangsy made up for the missed opportunity by scoring just less than three minutes later.
Yesenia Esparza lobbed a high pass from midfield that found Keodouangsy, who slotted the ball past Crusaders goalkeeper Alyssa Mettler. The ball ended up short of the net, but Keodouangsy was the first to the scene and converted to make the score 4-1.
“We’ve been practicing on getting the ball up and over the other team’s defense in practice,” McCabe said. “I think this game we really did good on that, getting it over the other team’s defense and connecting all of our passes.”
Worthington’s final goal came 37 seconds later, with Esparza scoring her first career goal.
The goal was set up by a through ball from Whitney Coriolan to Keodouangsy, with Mettler making an outstanding save on Keodouangsy’s shot. McCabe gathered the rebound and fed the ball to Esparza, who unleashed a shot that sailed over Mettler and straight into the bottom right-hard corner of the goal.
It was a satisfying victory for the WHS players, especially considering it was also their Meet the Trojans night.
“I feel amazing,” Boever said. “I feel like we wanted this more than them, because we were down, we were the underdog in this game, and we wanted it more than them and we won.”
Ektnitphong was highly complimentary of his team’s all-around effort in the victory.
“I asked the girls after the game, ‘Do you know why we were so successful?’ Everybody said, ‘Because we did the little things well,’” Ektnitphong said. “They took their tasks well. The defense did well, they took care of the ball and cleared the ball when they had to. The midfield controlled the ball and made passes up to forward. The forwards touched the ball and went directly to the goal and tried to score for us.”
Ektnitphong was especially pleased with the hustle his players showed, which helped the Trojans maintain most of the ball possession during the game. He also praised the effort of his midfielders — naming Esparza and Coriolan in particular — for limiting the ability of Mankato Loyola to stage many scoring opportunities.
The victory will help boost the Trojans as they enter their final two regular season games and prepare for sectional play.
“I wish that we would have had this game early on in the season, because now everyone sees what we can do and how we can play together,” McCabe said. “But I think that it will make us be better for our last few games and hopefully we can get a better record.”
Worthington will play at home on Monday against Fairmont and will then play at Waseca on Tuesday to round out its regular season.
“Fairmont is always going to be a tough challenge for us,” Ektnitphong said. “This is a sort of Interstate 90 rivalry. It doesn’t matter the record, we throw it out the window when the two teams meet, so it’s going to be an interesting game. This time I’m glad we get to play at home. We’ll see how it goes, hopefully we’ll put in a good show for the fans.”
Mankato Loyola 0 1 — 1
Worthington 2 3 — 5