BAXTER — Sartell can change its nickname from Sabres to Spoilers.
That’s what they it did Tuesday at Southdale Fields by handing the Brainerd Warriors their first loss of the season.
After tying Brainerd 1-1 Sept. 6 in Sartell, the Sabres battled to a 3-1 victory preventing the Warriors from claiming an unbeaten conference record.
“We played Brainerd down in Sartell to a 1-1 tie and it was a hard fought game,” said Sartell coach Joe Perske. “Today was also a hard fought game. Really, the play was not 3-1. It was pretty even in this game as well. I won’t say the score was how the game was played because this being their first defeat of the season they are a heck of a team.
“I tell you what, though. We wanted to be the spoiler and today we are.”
After a scoreless first half, Sartell struck early on a Grace Kuhl goal at the 41:35 mark. Brainerd answered three minutes later.
Emily Beltran darted through the Sartell defense and put a shot on net. It didn’t find the back of the goal, but Jenny Hendrickson was in the right place at the right time to knock in the rebound.
“We moved the ball around and Emily put a shot across and Jenny was there to finish the job,” said Brainerd head coach Ricky Lacerte. “That’s what they are trained to do in that situation. Jenny had a great game today. She worked hard across the board and she finished it for us. She put us back in the game for a moment.”
Sartell’s game winner was part unlucky and part bad timing. On a break away, Sartell’s Katie Stuttgen headed a ball just as Brainerd keeper Heather Campbell was going to grab it near the penalty arc. The ball sailed over the head of Campbell and bounced, and bounced, into the unguarded net.
The Sabres added an insurance goal at the 62:46 mark to improve to 10-3-2 overall and 7-3-2 in the conference.
“We have a chance now, if we win on Thursday to be second in the conference,” said Perske. “That’s what we would like to see happen and we should also get a very nice section seed.”
Brainerd falls to 6-1-3 in the conference and 8-1-3 overall and will actually need to cheer for Sartell on Thursday. The Sabres will play Alexandria, who played Tech Tuesday. But the Cardinals have one more game against St. Cloud Apollo and could secure enough points to claim the conference crown.
“You get complacent sometimes and you make mistakes and you pay for them,” said Lacerte. “That team wanted it. They wanted us badly and they wanted it more than we did. You think about it as a coach and you think maybe you shouldn’t have made a sub. Maybe you should have kept this person in. It’s not just their fault. We got outcoached and then we got outplayed.
“We’ve left ourselves to fate in the conference with Alex having one more game in the conference than we do. We could have just thrown away our conference title hopes. Now we just have to wait and see.”
Sartell 0 3 — 3
Brainerd 0 1 — 1
Second half: S-Grace Kuhl 41:35; Brd-Jenny Hendrickson 44:53; S-Katie Stuttgen 48:22; S-Sophia VanSurksum 62:46
Shots on goal: Brd 5, Sar 5
Goalkeepers: Brd-Heather Campbell (2 saves); Sar-Erin Deters (4 saves)