Sixty-three shots faced.
Only five goals allowed.
The state's second-lowest goals-against average (0.42).
Those are the startling numbers racked up by Brainerd junior goalkeeper Melissa Hanson as the Warriors have gone 11-0-2 this fall.
The junior is the first to concede the three defenders playing in front of her, Beth Sexton, Sarah Gervais and Jessica Bye, are the reasons she's thriving.
"I definitely wouldn't have nine shutouts without them," Hanson said. "They're amazing. We've had awesome defense this year."
Melissa Hanson has the second-lowest goals- against average.
Hanson's keeping, when challenged, has been nothing short off awesome. A 5-foot-9 frame, as well as athletic ability, help make the goal smaller.
She has replaced graduated keeper Becka Gellert, who helped Brainerd to a program-best 13-5-0 record and to its first playoff victory in 2003.
"We knew coming into the year Melissa would be our girl," Warriors coach Steve Kimble said. "It was a matter of getting her prepared for the varsity level.
"We're fortunate we've got a guy like Kevin Sexton putting in extra time after graduating (from BHS) into goalkeeper coaching. We're extremely fortunate to have probably one of the best goalkeeper coaches in the conference. He really works them. He runs them into the ground before he leaves for (Carleton)."
Hanson began tending goal four or five years ago. She credits Sexton for her development, which began in the Lakes Area Youth Soccer Association.
Other sports: Hockey
Memorable sports achievement: The 2004 soccer season
Grade-point average: 3.7
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite food: Candy
Hobbies: Playing sports
Future plans: Attend college, become a nurse
Athlete she admires: Olympic soccer player Mia Hamm
Parents: Jane and Dana Hanson
"He taught me every single thing I know about goaltending," Hanson said. "He's a very good goalie coach. I would definitely not be where I am today without him."
Hanson worked with and watched Gellert and her predecessor, Kate Bjornson, on her way to the varsity level.
"I kind of looked up to them," Hanson said. "I knew I would be in their spot one day. I watched what they did, I learned from what they did."
Hanson has stepped in to play every varsity minute this fall.
"We're not interested in sharing any time for the future at the varsity level because Melissa is still our future," Kimble said. "She has another year left. We'll try to get her developed even more.
"She's been outstanding. This week I think she's starting to figure out what I've been telling her. She's alert, she learns fast, she takes her job seriously. She's really done a fine job. She's gotten more confident as the season has gone on. The more confident she is the more deadly she is."
Hanson's play has been deadly due to the play of Beth Sexton, Gervais and Bye.
"Beth has really stepped up and become a leader on this team," Kimble said. "She did it as a freshman. Last year was not as great a season for her. She will admit that. She came in ready to roll this year.
"Sarah put some time in this summer to get herself to be a soccer player. She came out last year for the first time. She's a good athlete. She realized she needed to spend time becoming a soccer player. I forewarned her she would have a lot more work the way we would play this year. She has stepped it up a notch.
"Jessie is just inspiring to the rest of the team. I love watching her play, the upperclassmen love watching her play, how serious she takes it. She says there are three things she hates -- when they score, when we lose, when we tie. I said, 'We think alike, Jessie."
Other notable efforts:
Paige Olson, volleyball, had 15 kills against Sauk Rapids.
Brady Prince, football, rushed for 135 yards against Sauk Rapids, his third 100-yard game of the season.
Clinton Strother, football, had 2 1/2 quarterback sacks and blocked a punt against Sauk Rapids.
Will Kassulker, football, had 23 tackles against Sauk Rapids.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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