After beating Fergus Falls Hillcrest Academy on Thursday, the Pirates advanced to the Section 8A semi-final where they traveled to take on Fergus Falls. Crookston knew they would have their hands full against the Otters, the top team in the North Subsection and a team they lost to in the first match of the year 4-0. The Pirates played much better this time around, but they were unable to generate enough offense to stay with the high-powered Otters as their season came to an end with a 2-0 loss in a match played in Fergus Falls. “We were excited to be here and play at this level,” said Pirates Head Coach Sarah Reese. “This was a great soccer game today.”
The first half was played with the defenses dominating play. Both sides would complete a pass or two up the field and then be immediately stonewalled by the opposing defense. Neither offense generated a shot, until they were over ten minutes into the game. Shots came at a premium, especially for the Pirates. Crookston made adjustments to their formation and defensive scheme, dropping back and forcing Fergus Falls to play at a slower pace than they prefer. “We played a low pressure defense where you defend as a team and play farther back on the field,” explained Coach Reese. “They have very dynamic forwards so in order to create less space for them you have to back everyone up including your forwards.” In turn, the offense struggled to stay consistent with the lack of focus on that part of the game. “The hard part with the low pressure defense is that it’s hard to get the really quick, snappy counter-attacks,” added Coach Reese. “We did get out from time to time but we struggled in our transitions to get the shot off.” Fergus Falls started to find cracks in the Pirate defense a little over halfway into the game when a through-ball found the feet of Piper Andrews in the box. However, the Pirates goalie, Reese Swanson, reacted quickly and cut off the angle for Andrews to shoot and she missed wide right. Yet, Andrews would bounce back quickly. This time a pass slipped right past a couple of Pirate defenders and Andrews made sure to take a quicker shot this time as she found the back of the net for an Otters 1-0 advantage with 10 minutes left in the half. “She is a very dynamic player. She had a hat-trick against us in the regular season so we were very aware of where she was,” explained Coach Reese. “She just had the ball at the right time and at the right place.” The Pirates were able to put sporadic pressure on the Fergus Falls defense, getting off two shots in the half, one of which was saved by Rylynn Krein. Although the Pirates trailed 1-0 at the half, they were pleased with where they were at.
In the second half, it was more of the same. Both sides continued to struggle connecting on passes with the defenses swarming with high ball pressure. The Pirates began to put more emphasis on the offense as the half went along to look for that tying score, but the Otters defense was too disciplined to allow any significant chances. With 13 minutes left in the half, Andrews doubled the Otters lead with a couple of dribble moves through three Crookston defenders and found the bottom left corner for a 2-0 lead. Even with the Pirates putting three forwards up top over the final 15 minutes of the half, they produced just one shot. The Otters held on the rest of the way for a 2-0 victory to advance to the Section 8A Final. “No matter what soccer game you play, if you play your best for all 80 minutes, win or lose, it is what it is,” added Coach Reese. “We played so great. I’m just so proud of the girls.”
The Pirates season ends with a record on 8-7-1. They will say goodbye to six seniors- Olivia Huck, Aleah Bienek, Dillynn Wallace, Clara Meyer, Amelia Overgaard, and Rylee Solheim. “They are wonderful people to be around. They are leaders on and off the field, and we have lots of fun together,” said Coach Reese. “They have great work ethic, they are inclusive to the younger, less experienced players, and it has been a delight to work with them and see that leadership and persistence.”
Fergus Falls is now 7-6-4 and will play in the Section Final on Tuesday.
29:34 – FF – Piper Andrews (Tyra Skjeret)
67:01 – FF – Piper Andrews (Hope Goepferd)
|Reese Swanson – Crox||3||3||6|
|Rylynn Krein – FF||1||0||1|