Prep girls soccer: Worthington enjoys improved play against Loyola
WORTHINGTON -- Sports are supposed to be fun. It's a plain concept that can sometimes get lost in the heat of competition. Saturday, Worthington used that simple fact to show vast improvement from just 16 days earlier. Ultimately, the Trojans too...
WORTHINGTON - Sports are supposed to be fun.
It’s a plain concept that can sometimes get lost in the heat of competition. Saturday, Worthington used that simple fact to show vast improvement from just 16 days earlier. Ultimately, the Trojans took a 2-0 nonconference loss to Mankato Loyola; but that was against a team that beat them 7-0 on Aug. 27.
“After we lost to them 7-0 in the first game of the season, we told them before the game today that we know we’re not going to go out there and dominate,” Worthington head coach Emily Ahlquist said. “We just needed to do better and we needed to get back to the fun of playing soccer. I think we’ve been putting too much pressure on ourselves. But we had fun today.”
The Trojans’ renewed enthusiasm showed from the opening kick, when McKayla Gravenhof took the ball deep into the Crusaders’ zone. A defender was able to make a nice play to clear it before she could get a shot off, but the tone was established for Worthington.
The first half was played evenly, but the best scoring chances came from the Trojans. That was an encouraging sign for Ahlquist, whose team has scored only one goal on a penalty kick in eight games so far this season.
“It was definitely exciting to see that,” she said. “When you get one opportunity, it seems to get everyone excited and you start to see more opportunities. You just get more confidence in each other.”
Perhaps the best scoring chance came at 9:21 into the first half. Saida Garcia brought the ball up the right side and sent a perfect crossing pass to Ahmitara Alwal. That put her in a one-on-one with Loyola goalkeeper Kit Krmpotich. Alwal had her beat, but the shot sailed just a bit left of the goal.
The Trojans got another chance midway through the half. With the score still tied at 0-0, Gravenhof sent a through ball up the field that was chased down by Garcia. She got a strong shot off from about 15 yards out, but Krmpotich was able to haul it in.
After Worthington controlled the pace for the first 25 minutes of play, the Crusaders got a little momentum going late in the half. Loyola’s Sidney Botker got a look from the right side of the goal, but Trojans’ freshman keeper Keryri Gutierrez did a nice job of cutting off her angle and Botker’s shot missed.
A few minutes later, the Crusaders had another good look from point-blank range. Gutierrez sprawled to her left to stuff the shot attempt with a diving stop.
“We have a lot of confidence in our goalies,” Ahlquist said. “They get a lot of practice so they’re kind of forced to do well. A lot of the balls that do go in against us aren’t their fault. It’s just a really nice shot or a breakdown on defense.”
Worthington’s Clara Fuentes got another shot on net in the final five minutes of the first half, but once again it was stopped. That kept the match scoreless at halftime.
It wasn’t until 18:24 had gone by in the second half that the stalemate was broken. Loyola’s Jenna Helget took a nice angle from the right side and found the back of the net to put her team up 1-0.
Gutierrez had to leave the game shortly after when she sacrificed her body to make a sliding save on a one-on-one with Helget. The Crusaders were able to put the game away with 16:07 to play when Karla Krmpotich broke free at midfield and beat Alwal - who replaced Gutierrez in net - to her right side.
“We definitely were wearing down a little bit,” Ahlquist said. “But really I think at halftime they were saying that they really had to pick it up. They know what the score was last time we played. Once you get that first goal, there’s a lot of momentum that goes with it. That’s why we still need to work on getting one on the board.”
Worthington (0-8 overall, 0-2 Big South Conference) has a pair of conference matchups on the road this week. Next up is a 6:15 p.m. bout at St. Peter.
Loyola 0 2 - 2
Worthington 0 0 - 0