Champs knocked down: Albert Lea stuns Owatonna with victory

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 4, 2005

OWATONNA &045; Over half the Owatonna girls’ soccer team is seniors and, on the first day of school, Albert Lea gave the defending Big Nine champion a graduation present they will never forget.

After spending the last few seasons being treated like the Huskies’ fire hydrant, the Tigers put together 80 minutes of outstanding soccer, fighting back from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 at Owatonna.

This is the only time these two teams will face off this season, so it was an especially sweet win that counts double in the Big Nine standings.

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&uot;If you want to know who won the game for us, look at the roster,&uot; beamed Tiger head coach Rick Barnhill.

&uot;Every player stepped up and put their ‘A’ game on the field.

I couldn’t have been more proud of the way each one of them played.

Owatonna has one of the most effective scoring duos and the Tiger defense effectively neutered them.&uot;

It took only a few minutes for Owatonna to find Albert Lea’s goal, but it took 24 minutes for them to get one into it.

Subjected to a barrage, the Tigers repulsed attack after attack.

Kendra Olchefske made a diving deflection, but the ball was knocked too close to another player, who put it away for the only score of the first half.

Olchefske had 17 quality saves on the night.

Albert Lea’s second half attack caught Owatonna unprepared.

Brittni Lair came off the bench, providing the Tigers with a shot of adrenaline by making several runs at the Husky defense.

In the 62nd minute, Lair drew the keeper off the line and forced a shot past her.

In the 70th minute, an Albert Lea corner kick led to a melee in the box.

In the pile of humanity, the defense committed a foul, leading to a penalty kick at point blank range.

Whitney Wilson buried the shot into the left corner.

&uot;There’s a story for every play and every player,&uot; noted Barnhill.

&uot;Kendra played outstanding at keeper, stopping shot after shot.

Brittni forced the tie with an outstanding effort.

Whitney buried the penalty kick to give us the win.

Leah Walters made critical plays at each end of the field.

Jenna Christensen fought and scrapped for every ball.

Amanda and Abbey Arends were relentless for 80 minutes.

Anna Sigurdson was running down and shutting down some of the fastest attackers in the Big Nine.

Sophie Miller played sick against one of the best offenses in Class AA.

Morgan Stadheim was beating an all-conference player four years older than she.

Samantha Overgaard kept the left side clear of threats.

It was an A to Z complete effort.

&uot;I guess I have to say that this game has been one of the highlights in my career too.&uot;

Unfortunately, in other games, illness took its toll as the junior varsity fell 4-1.

&uot;The squad has been working hard this season and every time they step out onto the field they get even better,&uot; noted coach Leslie Neist.

&uot;They played even better than expected against a tough team like Owatonna with Ashley Trail scoring our single goal.”

C-Squad fought back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to tie it up on a Mariah Maras goal, but fell 2-1.