Tigers suffer first loss of season

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2006

As they walked out of their postgame meeting, you saw disappointment, but also a grim resolve on the face of the Albert Lea girls&8217; soccer team.

The first loss of a season is hard, but losses occur and the Tigers were freshly committed to preventing another.

Albert Lea&8217;s 2-1 loss to Owatonna was a game that played out in three acts.

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For the first 20 minutes of the game, the Huskies controlled play with speed and aggressive tackling.

With the sun at their backs, Owatonna was able to put two high balls past Tiger keeper Kendra Olchefske in the 13th and 16th minutes.

As the sun set, the game became more balanced in the middle 40 minutes.

Early in the last quarter of play, the tide turned.

Albert Lea pulled within one when Abby Arends buried a penalty kick in the 63rd minute and an Owatonna senior was given a red card and sent off.

Albert Lea was much more aggressive in the last 20 minutes, but despite several solid shots, could not put in the tying goal.

Statistically, it was almost a dead heat in shots, saves and corner kicks.

The most telling was fouls; Owatonna had 10 plus a red card; Albert Lea had one.

&8220;I give Owatonna credit for being the aggressor,&8221; Albert Lea head coach Rick Barnhill said.

&8220;They lost their first two games and Albert Lea had won both of theirs.

They really needed the win, had the speed and a commitment to winning every ball.

Tomorrow, the team will take what it learned, make the necessary adjustments and focus on preparing for Mankato West.

One regular season game doesn&8217;t make or break a season, it just represents another milestone in our preparations.&8221;

The junior varsity lost 1-0 and C-squad fell 6-0.

The Albert Lea Girls plays next Thursday when they host the Scarlets.

It is &8220;Fill the Stands&8221; night at the Hammer Girls&8217; Soccer Complex (temporary renaming by permission of ALHS athletics director Clay Anderson.)

The team is inviting everyone to come out and support the junior varsity and C-squad at their 5 p.m. games before joining in on a free pregame meal served in the stadium before the varsity game at 7 p.m.

There will be raffle prizes, and the team encourages all the Albert Lea fans to wear blue to really create a huge home field advantage.