SAUK RAPIDS — The Brainerd Warriors did their part and then got some help from Sartell to win the Central Lakes Conference championship Thursday.
The Warriors wrapped up their conference season with a 3-0 win over Sauk Rapids in Thursday’s wind-chilled match and were sitting atop the conference with 11 points and a 7-1-3 record. The 7-2-1 Alexandria Cardinals were in second place with 9.5 points and needed to win their final two matches against Sartell and St. Cloud Apollo.
Sartell’s 4-1 win over the Cardinals Thursday night ended the suspense.
“It would have been great to win it on the field, but a championship is a championship,” said Brainerd coach Ricky Lacerte.
“At the beginning of the season, I honestly didn’t focus much on a championship — after coming off a losing season, I just wanted a winning season.
“But with the sheer dedication and chemistry of the team for each game, we knew it could become a possibility,” he said. “We knew it could become a possibility, but it does creep into the back of your mind. The girls did all the hard work, I can’t take credit for it.”
Against Sauk Rapids, Maddie Hastings and Jenny Hendrickson each scored unassisted, first period goals and Emily Beltran added an insurance goal in the second as the Warriors rebounded from their only loss of the season on Tuesday.
Sauk Rapids managed just four shots, all of them stopped by Brainerd goalkeeper Heather Campbell, while the Warrior offense put nine shots on net.
“It was really cold and windy and the girls had to tough the weather first and foremost,” said Lacerte. “The wind had a huge effect on the game, but we had a game plan to keep the ball on the ground, not in the air, and the players executed it perfectly.”
Brainerd 2 1 — 3
Sauk Rapids 0 0 — 0
First half: Brd-Maddie Hastings 23:10, Brd-Jenny Hendricksson 33:30
Second half: Brd-Emily Beltran (Ally Smith) 53:14
Shots on goal: Brd 6 3 — 9, SR 3 1 — 4
Goalkeepers: Brd-Heather Campbell (4 saves); SR-Ashley Benoit (6 saves)
Conference: Brd 7-1-3. Overall: Brd 9-1-3. Next: Watertown-Mayer vs. Brainerd at Baxter 12:30 p.m. Saturday.