Gallery: A sour end to Senior Night
Albert Lea falls to Winona, looks forward to section tourney
The Albert Lea girls’ soccer team lined up for a corner kick with less than a minute to go in a tie game, and two scenarios entered the mind of Tigers head coach Rick Barnhill Thursday against Winona.
“We were in control, so we could say it was either going to be a win or at least no worse than a tie,” Barnhill said.
However, the unthinkable happened. Players from both teams converged in the box on the corner kick, and Winona cleared the ball up the field on a breakaway. The Winhawk forward who led the charge was fouled with less than 30 seconds left, and Albert Lea made a wall in front of the goal. Before the free kick was made, officials deemed the foul took place inside the box, so Winona was given a penalty kick instead. The shot was good, and the Tigers lost 3-2.
Albert Lea celebrated Senior Night during the game, and Barnhill sent in mass substitutions every 10 minutes, so the seniors could play together.
“I jumbled the lineups, and I told them that’s on me, because I broke the rhythm and continuity of what we do,” Barnhill said. “It’s nothing they did. They played well enough.”
For sisters Sarah and Hannah Savelkoul, Thursday’s game was the last time they’d play for the Tigers together in a home regular season game — even if one of them was stuck on the sideline.
Sarah, a senior, wasn’t able to play, because she is recovering from a concussion she sustained against Mankato East on Tuesday.
“I took the concussion test today (Thursday) and failed it, but I hope to be back for the second round of sections,” Sarah said. “I’m hoping for the best.”
The loss is a blemish on an otherwise stellar season for Albert Lea (10-5-1 overall, 6-2-1 Big Nine). Along with helping the Tigers to a successful record, the sisters have also enjoyed working together to get better.
“We push each other on and off the field and in other extracurricular activities,” Hannah said. “It’s just fun playing with her.”
Hannah was the first person to score a goal on the evening. She gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with seven minutes left in the first half.
“I just took it one time with my left foot, and it was lofted over the goalie’s hands,” Hannah said.
The Tigers maintained a 1-0 until the end of the first half. Winona threatened with a barrage of shots at the seven-minute mark and Albert Lea goalkeeper Hanna DeVries fell down while clearing the ball, which exposed the net. Winona took another shot, but Francesca Eckstrom deflected the ball away from the goal.
“That was a beautiful save,” Barnhill said. “It was quick thinking to race in there to anticipate where to be and where the shot might go.”
After Winona tied the game at one in the second half, a goal by Albert Lea’s Rachel Rehnelt gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
However, Winona knotted the score at two to force overtime and won in the second five-minute half of the extra period.
According to Barnhill, the Tigers have not shot a penalty kick in the last 16 games.
In Section 2A, Albert Lea is the No. 3 seed out of 15 teams. St. Peter is the No. 1 seed, and Waseca is No. 2. In the first round of the section tournament, the Tigers will play Glencoe-Silver Lake (1-12 overall, 0-9 Wright County). Time and location have yet to be determined.
Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Oct. 12 post.