U-14 soccer girls off to strong start

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 5, 2003

ROCHESTER &045; Albert Lea’s U-14 Classic 2 and Classic 3 girls’ soccer teams opened their regular season at the Rochester Invitational Tournament.

The Classic 2 team faced an uphill battle in Game 1, its first of the season. Rochester United was mostly made up of last fall’s top ranked Classic 1 team and had speed and skill, providing a big challenge to the depleted Elk defense.

Midway through the first half, a breakaway netted United the first goal, but the home locals fought back and tied it a few minutes later when Kendra Olchefske corner kicked to Leah Walters. In the second half, Albert Lea dug in its heels and repelled most attacks. One shot made it through and the Elks fell 2-1.

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The second game pitted Albert Lea against Rochester’s top U-13 team, the Warheads. There was more passing and less kicking. The home team began to find its balance. Through most of the game the teams were locked at 0-0, but good soccer players only need a momentary lapse and the locals had one, allowing the only score of the game.

Game 3 was against an old nemesis, last fall’s top ranked Rochester Classic 2 team. The game was scoreless through 68 minutes, when Rochester fouled forward Emma Dahl in its half of the field beyond the box. Olchefske drilled the penalty kick into the upper right corner for the score. The Elks blunted the Fire Dragon offense for the remaining two minutes to retain the shutout.

Two days later, Lakeville’s No. 1 team came to Brookside. The locals weren’t good hosts, beating the visitors at both ends of the field.

After Walter’s first-half goal was disallowed, the Elks kicked it up a notch. Early in the second half, a deep penalty kick by Olchefske was coming up a little short, but some skillful deception by Walters drew the Lakeville sweeper and goalie off, enabling the ball to roll in untouched.

With only minutes remaining, Olchefske headed in the capping goal on a corner kick from Whitney Wilson.

After opening the regular season with a solid 1-0 win over the Dakota County Revolution on a Conner Peterson goal, the Classic 3 team had some momentum going into the Rochester tournament.

Unfortunately, the only way to describe the first game against the LaCrosse Dirty Birds was brutal. Early in the game, a punishing slide tackle broke the arm of Albert Lea defender Brooke Arnold. LaCrosse then ran up the score on the home team, ending only after it hit double digits.

The second game was better with the still-fazed Elks facing Rochester’s top Classic 3 team.

A goal by Peterson kept the game knotted at 1-1 through the first half. In the second half, fatigue took over as the Rebels got four unanswered goals to win 5-1.