BAXTER — Aden Davis kick-started the Brainerd Warriors’ season with the game’s first goal in Saturday’s season opener against the Elk River Elks at Southdale Field.
Unfortunately for Brainerd, the Elks took control from there and zipped to a 6-2 win over the Warriors in a Section 8-2A game. Elk River dominated play as it bombarded Warriors’ keeper Joe Anderholm with 27 shots while confining Brainerd to seven.
“We had some poor clearances, which led to goals,” Warriors coach Tony Smith said. “Part of the defensive scheme is being in the right position but then you’ve got to clear that ball out wide to get it over that touch line so there isn’t a return shot coming back in.”
Davis, a freshman, scored on a beautiful header, assisted by senior Nick Solheim, in the first seven minutes.
Again, unfortunately for Brainerd, the Elks’ Trevor Riebel scored 38 seconds later, the first of four unanswered Elk River goals.
“It was a beautiful goal, countertattack, a great cross, and got a header for a finish,” Smith said of Davis’ score. “The pieces are there. I was very pleased to see that.
“Unfortunately, within a minute or two, we gave up that return goal. ... Basically in the first five minutes is when you have to guard and be playing smarter than the other team and we definitely weren’t there.”
Solheim’s unassisted goal at 68:22 pulled Brainerd within 4-2 but the Elks’ Ryan Stefano and Brandon Griffin tallied within 50 seconds of each other to lock up the victory.
“(Elk River) already had a game under their belts,” Smith said. “It didn’t go the way we wanted it to but I did see some positives. I thought we built through the midfield but our passes looked a little less crisp than I would like them to. Unfortunately, (the passes) were not on target as much as I would like them to be either, so we’ve got a long way to go but it’s still early in the season.
“I’ve seen good things from this group and I believe we’re going to be OK as we go forward.”
Elk River 3 3 — 6
Brainerd 1 1 — 2
First half: Brd-Aden Davis (Nick Solheim) 7:07; ER-Trevor Riebel 7:45; ER-Jordan Griffin (Storm Heyer) 11:16; ER-Heyer 31:20
Second half: ER-Jordan Griffin 50:28; Brd-Solheim 68:22; ER-Ryan Stefano 75:23; Brandon Griffin 76:13
Shots on goal: ER 27, Brd 7
Goalkeepers: Cody Christ (5 saves); Brd-Joe Anderholm (21 saves)
Overall: Brd 0-1-0. Next: Brainerd host Sartell 5 p.m. Tuesday at Baxter.