U-14 soccer squad unbeaten entering fall championship

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002

The numbers made it obvious: Five victories, zero losses, one tie, 19 goals for, two goals against.

In its division, the Albert Lea Elks U-14 boys’ soccer team holds the top position in the state and earned the favored spot in the fall championship.

Before one game, an Anoka parent said, &uot;You’ve come all this way, you deserve to win.&uot;

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Albert Lea got what it deserved, pounding the Tornadoes 5-0. A.J. Kortz, Leah Walters and Jake Thompson scored in the first half with Stephen Bera and Rich Needham netting goals in the second half.

St. Anthony Park knew what to expect. Albert Lea is a topic of conversation among the other coaches. SAP came out playing a physical game. The locals came out shooting.

It was no match for Albert Lea’s passing prowess, with most of the game played in St. Anthony’s half of the field. Needham netted the first goal on a pass from Kortz. After St. Anthony picked up an equalizer on a defensive error, Needham nailed the game-winner on a pass from Josh Svendsen. Just before halftime, Svendsen got the insurance goal on a feed from Kendra Olchefske. In the middle of the second half, Kortz put the game way out of reach with back-to-back goals two minutes apart.

With first place on the line, the Elks faced the second-place Westside Cougars. Fort Snelling’s field was cold, wet and windswept. The elements were the most substantial opponent, making the game a test of endurance, not skill. The state tournament will determine which is the better team.

The season ended as it began, with a pair of Kortz goals keying the locals to a 2-0 victory over Cambridge-Isanti.

&uot;We have two difficult games between us and the championship,&uot; noted assistant coach Lee Walters.

&uot;Cambridge-Isanti has played us tough in both games and is not going to roll over. With elimination for the loser, we expect a physical game. We need to focus everything on getting past them.&uot;

White Bear Lake and Westside will play for the other spot.

&uot;Either team can give us a lot of trouble,&uot; said assistant coach Robert Bera. &uot;When trophies are on the line, the intensity ratchets way up. If Albert Lea wants the prize, the two last games need to be their two best games.&uot;