Late goal gives Tigers a tie

Published 2:56 am Friday, October 3, 2008

The last time the Albert Lea girls’ soccer team and John Marshall played the game went to a shootout which lasted nine rounds — so entering the rematch Thursday night at Hammer Field it was expected it would be a close game once again.

The two teams played to a 1-1 double overtime tie Thursday night, but not without some dramatics. The Tigers tied the game with six minutes left to play when Chelsea LeBrun collected a rebound from a penalty kick. Sophie Miller was awarded a penalty kick after she was taken down by a John Marshall defender inside the 18-yard box. The Rockets keeper made the initial stop and Miller tried on the rebound, but was denied again. The ball found its way to the foot of LeBrun who sent the ball into the lower left corner of the net, but even then the keeper got a piece of the shot.

“That was absolutely the hardest goal that I’ve witnessed as a coach in my 20 years of coaching,” Barnhill said. “I’ve never seen a penalty kick turn out that way.”

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Barnhill said that in his five years at Albert Lea his teams have never lost to John Marshall and every game has been very close.

It was another big goal for LeBrun who has emerged this season as the team’s leading scorer. But it was a defender who stepped up big in the late stages of the second half to give the attack. Miller moved to the forward position and started generating chances for Albert Lea as the team searched for the equalizer.

“It was really her call tonight, she suggested it,” Barnhill said. “It just looked like we needed some kind of an extra boost or spark.”

Miller gave the team that spark as the Tigers started to control play in the last 10 minutes of the game. Up to that point John Marshall had controlled possession much of the game, but moving Miller from her defensive position to forward was a risk Barnhill felt was worth it.

“I thought why not,” Barnhill said. “It’s risky to take her out of the back, but you might as well lose 2-0 than have no chance.”

The defense remained strong without Miller as Jenna Bowman and Annalise Van Erkel thwarted any type of John Marshall attack in the late stages.

Barnhill described the game as a “discovery game” because the team learned something about itself as it was placed in a position of adversity.

The Rockets tallied the first goal of the game on a direct kick in the 33 minute of play. Samantha Dunfee connected on the direct kick and John Marshall looked to be in control. The Rockets had 25 shots in the game while the Tigers had 17 shots.

The section seeding was released Thursday as well and Albert Lea was awarded the No. 1 seed. The Tigers will have a first round bye and will play the winner of the Waseca-Worthington game next Thursday at home. Albert Lea will have home field advantage throughout the section playoffs.

“We’re coming together as a team, we’re trying to make it to the Dome this year,” LeBrun said. “That would be a great experience for all of us.”