BAXTER -- Just two games into her varsity girls' soccer career Brainerd's Kelly Rosenthal is demonstrating she has a nose for the net.
The freshman, who scored once Tuesday in a season-opening victory over Fergus Falls, rapped in two goals Thursday in a 2-1 win over the Elk River Elks and narrowly missed a hat trick.
Rosenthal tallied in the sixth minute of the first half to tie the game 1-1. Eleven minutes later she buried what turned out to be the game-winner, assisted by defender Sarah Eiesland.
"Sarah stepped up to the ball, hit it and hit the crossbar," Warriors coach Steve Kimble said. "The ball dropped back in front of the net and Kelly was there to clean it up. It was a great, what we call 'garbage goal.'"
Later in the game, Rosenthal nearly scored on a penalty kick.
"Kelly hit it over the top of the net," Kimble said. "We wouldn't have picked her if we didn't think she could handle a penalty kick. She will make plenty more than she misses. We figure if she's already scored two for the team we'll let her miss one, we don't care."
Ali Brown scored the Elks' only goal on a free kick, in the first four minutes of the opening half, scarcely beating Brainerd goalkeeper Melissa Hanson.
"She hit it really well," Kimble said of Brown. "We knew they were deadly on free kicks. She put a great ball in the upper (corner) to the far side over Melissa's shoulder. If Melissa would have made that save she would have been amazing, and she was darn close.
"It was a well-struck ball. They hit other free kicks well. You can do nothing but applaud their effort on those."
Warriors 2, Elk River 1
The key: Brainerd freshman Kelly Rosenthal scored two goals and the Warriors allowed just seven shots on net.
Next: vs. Alexandria, 5 p.m. Tuesday at Baxter
Hanson faced only seven shots as Brainerd's defense turned in another solid effort. The Warriors outshot Elk River 20-8.
"We were excited and happy to get the win but at the same time I didn't feel like it was our best game," Kimble said. "If we want to be a state caliber team we need to be consistent."
The contest was a rematch of last year's Section 8, Class 2A semifinals, won 1-0 by Brainerd on its home field.
"I don't know if the kids were tight because it was an early season match or what it was," Kimble said. "I thought Elk River would still be angry about last year's playoff game.
"The kids seemed like they were wore out. It was Elk River's fourth game of the season, and we played hard Tuesday."
Elk River 1 0 -- 1
Brainerd 2 0 -- 2
First half -- ER-Ali Brown, 4:00; Brd-Kelly Rosenthal (Megan Bates) 6:00; Brd-Rosenthal (Sarah Eiesland) 17:00
Second half -- No scoring
Shots on goal -- ER 3-5--8, Brd 12-820
Goaltenders -- ER, Krystine Ose (18 saves), Brd, Melissa Hanson (7 saves)
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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