• 21°

Tigers fall against Panthers

Claire Sherman, middle right, and Ashley Butt look to move the ball forward Thursday against Rochester Century at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Claire Sherman, middle right, and Ashley Butt look to move the ball forward Thursday against Rochester Century at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

In a battle of late bloomers, the Albert Lea girls’ soccer team missed an opportunity to string together back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

The Tigers lost 3-0 Thursday against Rochester Century at Jim Gustafson Field.

Both teams had a rough start to the season but were over .500 in their last five games.

The Panthers (3-6-2, 3-3-1 Big Nine) began the season 0-5-2 but have won three of their last four games. The Tigers (3-6-1, 2-5 Big Nine) started the year 0-4 but went 3-1-1 in their previous five games before facing Century.

“We knew that they were better than their record reflects,” Albert Lea coach Rick Barnhill said about the Panthers. “You could see their ball skill and speed of play.”

In the first half, the Tigers had possession of the ball for 4:23. That meant Century’s forwards threatened for more than 35 minutes of the 40-minute half.

Despite being out-shot 19-1, Albert Lea trailed 2-0 at halftime.

“It was good to absorb that much pressure and only surrendered two goals,” Barnhill said.

In the second half, the Tigers attacked more instead of sitting back on defense. The result was three times as much time of possession, 13:21, and eight shots on goal — including a goal by Claire Sherman that was nullified because of an offside penalty — compared to one in the first half.

“We did something a little different in the second half and tried to play on as much determination and will as we could possibly muster and hope that that compensates,” Barnhill said. “The evidence shows that it did.”

Kathryn Flaherty led Albert Lea with nine saves.

The Panthers had the edge in corner kicks 2-1.

In the Section 2A standings, the Tigers are seventh out of 15 teams with a Quality Results Formula ranking of No. 60 from Minnesota-Scores.net. Mankato West is the top team in the section with a No. 3 QRF ranking.

Next, Albert Lea will play at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Mankato West (9-2, 6-2 Big Nine).

The Scarlets began the season 6-0 and have lost two of their last five games. Mankato West lost 6-0 Thursday at Rochester Mayo (8-1-1, 6-0 Big Nine), the only team with an unblemished Big Nine Conference record. Before playing the Tigers, the Scarlets will host Fairmont at 1 p.m. Saturday.