BAXTER — Things started out on a promising note for the Brainerd Warriors as they searched for their first Central Lakes Conference victory Thursday afternoon against the undefeated Sartell Sabres.
Hannah Lundstrom buried a shot in the upper right-hand corner of the Sartell net. However, defensive lapses after that cost Brainerd as the Warriors to Sartell 4-2 at Southdale Field.
With the loss the Warriors dropped to 0-2-1 in conference play while the Sabres moved to 3-0. Sartell scored two goals in each half and recorded 21 shots for the game.
Brainerd managed just eight shots on the Sartell net with five of those coming in the first half.
The Warriors started the first half with nice ball movement in their midfield zone and it paid off. Lundstrom broke away from the Sabres’ defense and put a shot past keeper Erin Deeters and Brainerd had a 1-0 lead.
“It was put together well by our midfielders, who got the ball to Hannah, who put it in the back of the net,” said Warriors coach Ricky Lacerte. “It was basic soccer really, and that is how we play soccer.
‘The rest of the game is not how we play soccer. We lost that sense of communication and as that broke down our defense broke down.”
Sartell countered with a goal at the 5:43 mark on a breakaway goal by Kendra Rasmussen, who separated herself from the Brainerd defense.
The Sabres finished off the half with another goal from Rasmussen off a corner kick. The Brainerd defense didn’t do keeper Tori Saxum any favors as it allowed the ball to roll through the goal box where Rasmussen was able to convert.
Saxum faced 21 shots and kicked away 17.
Sartell increased its lead to 3-1 early in the second half on a goal from Katie Stuttgen at the 45-minute mark.
Brainerd looked as if it was going to counter at the 47-minute mark as Lundstrom broke free from the Sabres’ defense but her shot bounced off the right post.
One minute later, Erin Kurvers scored for Sartell to put the game away.
“There are moments in a soccer game when it is a matter of inches, and that was the case,” Lacerte said. “It can take the wind out of your sails really quickly.
“I give credit to my team for continuing to try. They get exhausted but they keep trying. We kept going and scored a goal that put some wind back in our sails but it wasn’t enough.”
The Warriors got their final goal at 59:13 on a nice piece of teamwork between Lundstrom and Madeline Hastings. Lundstrom went on the attack from the right-hand corner of the goal box, and drew a defender before dumping a crossing pass to Hastings, who put the ball in the net for the final score.
Brainerd ended the game on a good note with that goal, and Lacerte promised their defense will be improved in their next game.
“Our defense is our cornerstone and is usually 100-percent solid,” he said. “You have those days and that’s just the way it is. I played defense and sometimes you just feel off and it falls apart. As a team you need to come together. They know that, and I know that, and we will bring it next time.”
Sartell 2 2 — 4
Brainerd 1 1 — 2
First half: Brd, Hannah Lundstrom (Rachel Ford) 2:16; Stl, Kendra Rasmussen 5:43; Stl, Rasmussen 24:06.
Second half: Stl, Katie Stuttgen 45:00; Stl, Erin Kurvers 47:53; Brd, Madeline Hastings (Lundstrom) 59:13.
Shots on goal: S 21, Brd 8
Goalkeepers: S-Erin Deters (6 saves), Brd-Tori Saxum (17 saves)