That's exactly what the Willmar Cardinals found out when they faced the Brainerd Warriors Tuesday in a Central Lakes Conference girls' soccer matchup.
Brainerd got two goals from freshman Danielle Uphoff, and along with constant pressure by Ally Hartje and Aani Rangen on the outside, the Warriors dominated Willmar as they cruised to a 7-1 win.
The victory was Brainerd's third straight after a season-opening loss to Sartell.
"To be above .500 almost a quarter through the season is huge," Brainerd coach Steve Kimble said. "I really think we can play with Apollo and beat Alexandria. I think we can give anyone in the CLC a run for their money."
Aani Rangen of the Brainerd Warriors took a water break in Tuesday's game against Willmar. She scored a goal in the Warriors' 7-1 victory.
Willmar goaltender, Kelsey Fehl, may have nightmares of Warriors and soccer balls flying at her as she faced 48 shots on net, many of them from point-blank range, as Brainerd played much of the game in the Cardinals' end.
"I looked at the stat books from last year," Kimble said, "and without fail, the games we lost, we lost the shots-on-goal battle. We've set a goal this season for 250 shots on goal. The more you shoot, the more goals that will go in. I want this team to have a scoring mentality."
That mentality was on display from the start as Dana Kohan took a pass from Breanna Olson and rifled a shot past Fehl to put Brainerd on the board just 58 seconds into the game.
Olson and Rangen each scored goals on breakaways in the first half and Liz Hendricks chipped one over Fehl for another score. Uphoff then intercepted a mis-hit from Fehl and buried the ball in the back of the net, giving Brainerd a 5-1 lead at the half.
"I think we learned how to finish the breakaway," Kimble said. "The old saying goes, 'Shoot with your head and not with your heart,' basically meaning put the ball where you want it with some precision rather than just blasting it."
It was more of the same in the second half as the Warriors continued to apply pressure on Willmar's defense. Vinny Spagnola scored six minutes into the half and Uphoff closed out the scoring for Brainerd with her second goal of the game.
Following Uphoff's goal, Willmar had its best scoring chance as it had a three-on-two break but goalie Kate Bjornson stonewalled the Cardinals' attack with one of her three saves on the day.
Sara Steinman of the Willmar Cardinals attempted to kick the ball away from Emily Lorenz of Brainerd. (Dispatch Photos by Clint Wood)
"(Defense) was a little sloppy today," said Kimble. "We didn't want to play down to their level. We took a hit on defense with Erin MacDonald breaking her ankle. She was a senior captain and a bruiser and we've got the depth to fill that spot, but there will be some fine-tuning. If a team comes down on us, they'll have to beat two or three kids to get to the net."
Kimble also pointed out that his team is employing a not-so conventional way of substituting as he's sending in seven new players each time they sub.
"I think we're really deep and we can rotate our lines through," Kimble said. "When you have a deep team, and you keep your midfield and outside midfield's fresh, you're going to get more work out of them. We can run teams right into the ground."
Willmar 1 0 -- 1
Brainerd 5 2 -- 7
First half -- B-Dana Kohan (Breanna Olson) :58; B-Olson (Taylor Hartje) 13:21; W-Brittany Leitch 18:09; B-Liz Hendricks 25:31; B-Aani Rangen 35:15; B-Danielle Uphoff 39:04.
Second half -- B-Vinny Spagnola (Emily Lorenz) 46:16; B-Uphoff (64:23.
Shots on goal -- B-48, W-4
Goaltenders -- B-Kate Bjornson (3 saves), W-Kelsey Fehl (41 saves)
Conference -- B 2-1. Overall -- B 3-1. Next game -- Brainerd at Sauk Rapids 5 p.m. Thursday.
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