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Albert Lea shuts out Red Wing

Turena Schultz of Albert Lea looks to score as she is defended by Northfield's Hannah Barlow, left, and Mackenzie Irwin Thursday at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Turena Schultz of Albert Lea looks to score as she is defended by Northfield’s Hannah Barlow, left, and Mackenzie Irwin Thursday at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

After a rain delay, the Albert Lea girls’ soccer team caught fire.

Rachel Rehnelt found the net with less than two minutes left in the first half, Callie Hanson added another goal on a penalty kick midway through the second half and Tigers goalie Kathryn Flaherty kept Red Wing off the board Tuesday in a 2-0 shutout at Jim Gustafson Field.

Albert Lea (2-5, 1-4 Big Nine) hopes to use the victory a springboard for the rest of the year, said Tigers coach Rick Barnhill.

“I feel we can use this as a new beginning, regardless of what’s been going on this season up to this point,” Barnhill said. “We found something that can give us a little bit of life.”

Red Wing (5-3-1, 2-3-1 Big Nine) scored multiple goals in six of its previous eight games, but Flaherty led Albert Lea’s defense with multiple leaping saves, including the would-be equalizer by punching it over the crossbar 10 minutes into the second half.

“That was the highest I’ve ever seen her get up off her feet,” Barnhill said. “That’s what you need. You need a catalyst, an igniter. She rallied us up tonight with those saves.”

The goalkeeping effort was reminiscent of Flaherty’s performance against Park Center in the Class A state quarterfinals last season, Barnhill said.

After starting the season 1-5, Albert Lea has been through at least seven formation changes, Barnhill said.

“We’re a little more compact in the back now to close up some of those defensive holes,” he said. “We’re learning on the run, but I was really pleased with the energy and effort for the most part.”

The Tigers lit the scoreboard with 1:28 before halftime when Rehnelt snuck the ball into the upper-right corner of the net.

Albert Lea padded its lead when Callie Hanson scored on a penalty kick with 26:21 left in regulation. She was tripped in the box as she followed a rebound on a missed shot by Haley Lamping.

“Lamp and Claire (Sherman) set me up on that one, and I lucked out getting the P.K. for it,” Hanson said. “The season has been a little bit down for us, but hopefully we’re looking up now.”

Despite the win, Barnhill said his team has room for improvement.

“We’ve got a lot to clean up,” he said. “We’re still not understanding game situations in terms of score and clock. Our game management needs to get better.”

Next, Albert Lea will play at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Peter (5-2-1, 4-0-1 Big South). After starting 0-2-1, the Saints have won five straight games and are coming off a 3-2 home victory Thursday against Mankato Loyola.