Albert Lea soccer girls prevail 2-0 at Loyola

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 4, 2004

MANKATO &045; The Mankato Loyola Crusaders were riding high, starting their season 4-0-0 and outscoring their opponents 11-3. With a largely senior starting line and two all-state players, they felt real good about their chances against a younger Albert Lea team that was shut out in its opener.

Two minutes in, Loyola realized these kittens had claws, spending most of the first half defending against a relentless Albert Lea attack.

The Tigers snapped the Crusaders’ streak with a 2-0 win at Mankato Thursday night.

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Sophomore Kendra Olchefske opened this season’s scoring in the 33rd minute, placing a long free kick just under the cross bar. Sophomore Leah Walters followed with the insurance goal in the 50th minute by driving through traffic and placing a solid shot to the lower left corner. Among the top scorers on their club team, these were the first varsity goals for the second-year players.

“The team had more collaboration and combination play going on than a Lennon/McCartney studio session,” observed coach Rick Barnhill. “The players executed better under game conditions than they did in practice. There could have easily been three or four more goals because some viable shots went over or into the cross bar and because some set plays weren’t capitalized upon.”

Regrouping in the second half, the Crusaders stepped up the pressure but were turned away by Albert Lea’s spirited defense. The Section 2A foes may face each other again in a few weeks in the run up to the state tournament.

“Loyola was a very good team; in most ways better than Park,” said Barnhill. “Albert Lea needed this win to generate some momentum. The next three games are very challenging with Owatonna and Century at home and Owatonna on the road.”