BAXTER -- It's time for the seniors on the Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team to take a step back and bask in the light of success.
They've definitely earned it.
The six seniors, Becka Gellert, Jessie Rosenthal, Breanna Olson, Maggie Sweeney, Liz Tadych and Kate Olson were around for the lean years when they endured 10-0 and 12-0 losses.
They were the ones getting pushed around and beaten at every turn. Now the Warriors are the ones dishing out the losses.
On Monday at Southdale Field, the Warriors blanked the Willmar Cardinals 5-0 and in doing so, set a regular-season record for wins in a season (9) with five games left in the regular season.
"The seniors on this varsity squad still remember the big losses," said Brainerd coach Steve Kimble. "Our junior varsity is seeing a whole new standard of Brainerd soccer. We might finish the season 13-4, 14-3 and if someone would've told me in August that we'd be 13-4 I'd have been pretty happy about that.
"This is a landmark season. We've set the bar high in a quick time. That's the result of hard work day in and day out."
Those six seniors have given Kimble a certain amount of determination this season. It's that quality that could very well carry the team deep into the playoffs.
"It's nice to have some veteran, grizzled, upperclassmen," Kimble said. "They've really weathered some storms and they deserve to be on top of things right now."
The Warriors worked hard in the first half to create a number of scoring chances, indicated by their 15 shots on goal. But they only led 1-0 at halftime thanks to a Taylor Hartje goal at the 26:44 mark.
"Sometimes, when finishing, you can do all the cute tactical stuff you want," Kimble said, "but finishing comes from desire. If you want it you bury it. Sometimes finishing is about adrenaline and hunger."
After the break, Ally Hartje's adrenaline was pumping as she scored on a pass from her sister, Taylor, just over two minutes into the second half.
Brainerd scored two more times in the first 10 minutes of the second half on goals from Breanna Olson and Danielle Uphoff to put the game out of the Cardinals' reach. Rosenthal sealed the win with a goal with less than seven minutes to play.
Two players who have played a big role in the Warriors' success this season are Taylor and Ally Hartje. Each time the Hartjes touched the ball, they made something happen, evidenced by the goal and assist each of them collected against the Cardinals.
"The Hartjes physically dominate on the field," Kimble said. "You can't match them up on the field and we've got two of them. They'll take the ball away from anybody. They'll run by anybody. The physical difference between them and most average soccer players is absolutely phenomenal."
Willmar 0 0 -- 0
Brainerd 1 4 -- 5
First half -- B, Taylor Hartje (Beth Sexton) 26:44
Second half -- B, Ally Hartje (T. Hartje) 42:17; B, Breanna Olson (Jenny Beilke) 47:46; B, Danielle Uphoff (A. Hartje) 49:54; B, Jessie Rosenthal (unassisted) 73:09.
Shots on goal -- B 15-15 -- 30, W 1-1 -- 2
Goaltenders -- B-Becka Gellert (2 saves), W-Kaley Nelson (25 saves).
Conference -- B 7-2, W 1-8. Overall -- B 9-2, W 1-8. Next game -- Brainerd at Sauk Rapids 5 p.m. today.
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