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Missed penalty kicks doom Trojan girls against Fairmont

WORTHINGTON -- Following its first victory in school history last week, the Worthington girls' soccer team looked to make it two in a row Saturday morning. But several missed opportunities, including three failed penalty kicks, handed the Trojans...

WORTHINGTON -- Following its first victory in school history last week, the Worthington girls' soccer team looked to make it two in a row Saturday morning. But several missed opportunities, including three failed penalty kicks, handed the Trojans their first defeat of the season -- losing to Fairmont 2-1.

Fairmont's Kelsey Every and Kayla Jensen each scored in the second half to pace the Cardinals (1-0) over the Trojans (1-1). Ina Umfeld tallied the lone goal for Worthington, also coming in the second half.

The Trojans could easily have held a 2-0 advantage heading into the second half, as Worthington was awarded two penalty kicks -- both on handball infractions. Just eight minutes into the contest, the Trojans had their first opportunity from the penalty spot, and selected Vickie Ektnitphong to take the kick. The junior midfielder was just off the mark to the lower left corner of the goal, and the Cardinals had dodged a bullet.

Unfortunately for Fairmont, the team was called for another handball foul a mere two minutes later. Ektnitphong was again called upon to take the strike, this time choosing to lift the ball toward goal. The shot appeared to be on its way to hitting the back of the net, but instead ricocheted off the crossbar as the Cardinals looked to be bulletproof.

"We had a few missed opportunities that hurt us," Worthington head coach Smitty Ektnitphong said following the game. "Other than that, this was a really fun game to watch. Both teams played very hard and with a lot of skill."

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The missed opportunities didn't slow the Trojans down, as Worthington forwards Katy Russell and Suze Peters forced the issue. Fairmont goaltender Leah Ehlert had to be sharp as the Trojans peppered her with several good shots.

The Cardinals best chance of the first half came with 15 minutes remaining. Andrea Heine crossed a ball from the right side to an unmarked Every standing at the penalty spot. The skilled forward collected the pass, took one step and fired. Worthington netminder Sarah Boever met the blast head on and fell to her knees to collect the rebound.

The Cardinals made a few adjustments to open the second half in attempt to manufacture more chances on Boever and the Trojans. Following a golden opportunity by Worthington's Gabby Boever, the Cardinals made a quick counter attack.

Jensen managed to control a pass 14 yards out from net, pushed the ball to her right and put it past a diving Sarah Boever in the upper left corner to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead -- at least for a moment.

The Trojans bounced right back, pressuring the Fairmont goal with even more intensity. The hard worked paid off in a direct free kick opportunity just outside the box on the right side. Umfeld hit a high, lofting ball toward the Fairmont goal. The lanky striker was looking for Russell, Peters or Ektnitphong in the middle, but her pass headed toward the back post catching Ehlert off her line and dropped into the net -- tying the game at 1-all.

"I was trying to get the ball to Suze in the middle," Umfeld explained. "But the ball went past everybody and into the net."

With all the momentum in its favor, Worthington continued to pressure the Fairmont goal at every opportunity. Gabby Boever, Ektnitphong and Erin Ebbers fed Peters, Russell and Umfeld time after time as the Trojans looked for the go-ahead goal.

But it was Fairmont that would take the lead for good with 13:32 left in the contest. On another counter attack, Ashley Olson delivered a cross from the left side of the box. The ball skipped past several Worthington defenders and by two Fairmont attackers, winding up on the foot of Every. All alone off to the right of the goal, Every made no mistake -- calmly placing the ball in the lower right corner of the net.

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"We were able to make the most of our opportunities today," Fairmont head coach Matt Nielson said. "Leah came up big for us on the final penalty kick."

The save Nielson spoke of came with 1:42 left in the game as the Trojans were again awarded a penalty kick on a pushing infraction. This time, Russell got the nod, hitting the ball waist high toward the left side of the goal. Ehlert took a step and a half to her right, reached out and knocked the shot down.

"I didn't know which way she was going to go, I just reacted," Ehlert said. "But I made the save and we managed to hang on for the win."

The Trojans had one last opportunity with 15 seconds left on the clock, but Russell's effort was denied by a sliding Fairmont defender.

"The opportunity was there for us, but we just didn't convert," Smitty Ektnitphong said. "But I'm very pleased with our effort today. The girls are playing very well and if we continue to put in the effort the victories will come."

Fairmont 0 2 -- 2

Worthington 0 1 -- 1

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