PREP GIRLS' SOCCER: Trojans sneak past CardinalsWORTHINGTON — When the Worthington girls’ soccer team was looking for inspirational quotes for Monday’s game against Fairmont, they had no idea how eerily accurate that their chosen quote would become. “We were just looking up quotes for locker boosters today and we found one from Cristiano Ronaldo, which says, ‘It only takes one goal to win,’” WHS co-captain Whitney Coriolan said. “That’s what happened tonight.”
WORTHINGTON — When the Worthington girls’ soccer team was looking for inspirational quotes for Monday’s game against Fairmont, they had no idea how eerily accurate that their chosen quote would become.
“We were just looking up quotes for locker boosters today and we found one from Cristiano Ronaldo, which says, ‘It only takes one goal to win,’” WHS co-captain Whitney Coriolan said. “That’s what happened tonight.”
The Trojans had a relentless attack throughout the contest and in the end a goal by senior Paige McCabe proved to be the only goal they needed in a 1-0 victory.
It was a fitting result for the team’s Parents Night celebration, which was also the last guaranteed home game for the WHS seniors.
The Trojans also avenged a 2-0 loss to Fairmont from Sept. 12.
“I’m happy that we did it for the seniors,” Coriolan said. “Fairmont is very close in level to us, so they’re like our rivals. It’s nice to get them back.”
Both teams created scoring opportunities in the first half, but none that particularly threatened the goalkeepers.
The Worthington midfield — in particular Yesenia Esparza and Lydia Kemper — did a great job of funneling the ball straight back to the team’s forward line, with the Cardinals’ drives mostly cut down by the WHS defense before a strong shot could be made.
“They’re the best,” Trojan goalkeeper Alivia Rowley said of her team’s defense. “They played really hard and did really well.”
WHS forward Alina Keodouangsy used her speed to take advantage of some one-on-one chances early in the second half, but the Fairmont defense and FHS goalkeeper Shannon Christianson repelled the attacks to keep the game in a stalemate.
The Trojans’ goal came with 22:09 remaining in the contest. Esparza began the play by winning the ball at midfield and feeding a through ball to Keodouangsy, who took the ball all the way in front of the Cardinals’ net.
After reaching a roadblock, Keodouangsy found McCabe wide open, who calmly placed a left-footed strike into the right-hand side of the net.
“I was just kind of standing there, actually,” McCabe said. “I was open the whole time and I was just yelling at Alina, because she was trying to get around all these people. Then she looked up and she saw me, she passed it and I put it in with my left foot.”
It was McCabe’s first goal of the season and was a well-deserved reward for her strong performance in the game.
“Paige got a good look, I’m glad that she didn’t rush that shot,” WHS head coach Smitty Ektnitphong said. “That was the only one that we needed and I was really glad to see it go in. She deserved it, she had been playing hard all game.”
Fairmont increased its pressure on the Trojan defense in the closing minutes, forcing a number of tough saves by Rowley.
The Cardinals’ best chance to equalize came with 1:18 remaining on a beautiful strike by Rachael Sauck to the bottom left-hand corner of the net, but Rowley made a phenomenal diving save and ended up with her second career shutout.
“I feel awesome,” Rowley said. “All I can do is just smile.”
The victory brought Worthington’s record to 4-8 on the season.
“This is a great win,” Ektnitphong said. “The girls fought hard all 80 minutes and everybody contributed. The defense cleared the ball and made good decisions, Alivia played a big part in goal — especially in the last 10 minutes she came up big.
“I think you can’t doubt these girls’ heart. All along I knew they had it. I know technical-wise we may not be able to challenge a lot of teams individually, but these girls have got a lot of heart.”
The Trojans have won their last three games in a row and will look to continue that streak today on the road at Waseca.
“I’m glad we’ve come through now in the past few games,” McCabe said. “We had a really rough start, but we’re pulling it together.”
“I think the way we’ve been playing has made us a lot more confident. I think that’s mostly why we’re doing so much better, because we’re just so much more confident.”
Ektnitphong hopes his players’ recent strong play is a sign of good things to come when the team enters section play.
“If this is the beginning of us peaking at the right time, then we are a perfect fit,” Ektnitphong said. “We did pretty much everything right and I hope this just continues.”
With their new-found inspiration and momentum from their most recent victory, the Trojans have nothing but confidence for the road ahead.
“I know that we’ll carry this through to Waseca (today),” Coriolan said.
Fairmont 0 0 — 0
Worthington 0 1 — 1