BAXTER -- For the first time in program history the Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team is enjoying an abundance of confidence.
Brainerd forwards are scoring in droves and the defense is like a steel curtain.
In Brainerd's previous seven wins the defense and goalies had given up two goals compared to 26 scored by the Warriors.
You can add five more to Brainerd's total and zero to the opposition as the Warriors knocked off Central Lakes Conference foe Little Falls 5-0 Thursday.
Brainerd outshot the Flyers 23-3 thanks to the defense of Liz Tadych, Kate Olson, Jesse Rosenthal, Marie Lange, Jennifer Bielke and Beth Sexton
"Our defense we shift as a group," said Tadych. "We play in thirds and not so much as a half field. When the ball's on one side of the field we're in that third so we shift. It's kind of like a square or diamond."
The defense allowed the offense to attack the goal with aggression. Taylor Hartje began the onslaught with a floater over goalie Holly Hoheisel's head at 1:00.
Off a Breanna Olson shot on goal, Joyce Hendricks used her header to give Brainerd a 2-0 lead.
Olson and Taylor Hartje worked a give-and-go with Olson finding the back of the net at the 26-minute mark. Aani Rangen finished off the first half scoring with an assist from Kate Bjornson, who played forward rather than her usual goalie position.
"We wanted to get some of our younger kids, sort of to say, 'second-liners,' a lot of ball time," Warriors coach Steve Kimble said. "There were some things on the field as far as tactical play that we wanted to go over. We wanted to work on our overlaps, make sure there was not panicking, passing to feet rather than just launching it and again putting a lot of balls on net."
Brainerd's defense gave up just two shots on goal in the first half, but kept its focus and allowed only one opportunity in the second.
"Our defense is really proud of how we've played this year," said Tadych. "We are very confident. This is the first time we've had this good of a record."
In Brainerd's three losses, aside from a 3-0 loss to St. Cloud Tech, the other two have been 2-1 losses to Sartell and St. Cloud Apollo, both games Kimble believes they could have and should have won.
"The games that we've lost we've been in," said Kimble. "Sartell, Apollo and Tech are the top three teams in the CLC and those are teams we have to beat."
Vinny Spagnuolo recorded Brainerd's fifth goal in the 76th minute as Brainerd secured its third straight victory.
"We are starting to see the field so well, we have come so far from day one," said Kimble. "We play with a lot of depth. We have more two-dimensional players."
Little Falls 0 0 -- 0
Brainerd 4 1 -- 5
First half -- 1, B-Taylor Hartje 1:00; 2, B-Joyce Hendricks (Breanna Olson) 5:32; 3, B-Olson (Taylor Hartje) 26:51; 4, Aani Rangen (Kate Bjornson) 37:27
Second half -- 5, B-Vinny Spagnuolo 76:22
Shots on goal -- B 7-16--23; LF 2-1--3
Goaltenders -- Becka Gellert (3 saves); LF-Holly Hoheisel (22 saves), Jessica Olson (16 saves)
Conference -- B 6-3-1, LF 1-10. Overall -- B 8-3-1, LF 1-12. Next game -- Brainerd at Moorhead 1:30 p.m. Saturday; Little Falls vs. St. Johns Prep at Belle Prairie 5 p.m. Monday.
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