BAXTER -- It was a Hollywood match-up, good versus evil, black versus white, but George Lucas didn't write the script and the Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team lost to the St. Cloud Tech Tigers 2-0 in Central Lakes Conference action Tuesday.
The Tigers, wearing their road black, came into the game at the Baxter soccer complex with a 9-1 conference record and in first place. The Warriors, wearing their home whites, came in with a 4-5 conference mark and had never beaten Tech. All indications were this was going to be another blowout.
Despite one cheap goal and another breakaway score, Brainerd outplayed the Tigers on offense, defense and in transition. They played physical soccer, knocking Tech to the ground whenever the opportunity arose.
Brainerd continually beat the Tigers to loose balls and controlled the ball in Tiger territory for the majority of the time.
Megan Lorenz of the Brainerd Warriors (17) struggled with a St. Cloud Tech Tigers player in controlling the ball in the Warriors' 2-0 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday. (Dispatch Photo by Clint Wood)
"It was very big," said goalkeeper Kate Bjornson about the team's performance. "We came into the game with a lot of energy because they lost to Alexandria 3-0 (Tuesday which was Tech's only loss in the conference) and we lost to Alex 3-2. That pumped us up for the game."
Tech has never beaten Brainerd by less than six goals but Tuesday the Warriors came out aggressively and with a purpose other than just not getting beaten bad, but to win.
"We've been saying all year long that we're young but we're coming along," said Warrior head coach George Kohan. "The best team in the conference comes to town, comes to our house, we've never held them to less than 10 goals in the history of the program, we only gave them two today and one floated in the air. It should have been a 1-0 game.
"It was so close and we had just as much attack as they did. As a matter of fact, in some cases, I think we dominated play."
One place where the Tigers dominated was shots on goal. Despite not having the ball very often Tech used its chances to advantage, getting 14 shots on goal in the first half and 21 in the second half.
After the first two quick goals Brainerd's defense stiffened and shut out the speedy Tiger attackers not letting them see the back of the net.
"In our past games we haven't been talking a lot, like who goes to the ball and who hangs back," said Bjornson. "We did that a lot today. We had a goal today that we wouldn't let them beat us by more than six points so we accomplished that."
Bjornson had 33 saves and played what Kohan believed was her best game in the net. The defense around her was spectacular as well, stealing balls and gaining control whenever Tech got close.
"There's a tactical way of playing defense," said Kohan. "You trade off roles. It's a triangular system where they have to communicate to say whose on and whose not on and whose going where.
"The kids did it. They finally started to talk to each other. We stopped chasing the ball and playing tactical defense and you can't get an attack through that."
The Warriors changed their lineup to a 4-3-3 line up instead of the regular 4-4-2 and it seemed to help. Deidra Brum scored at the six minute mark with a lazy floater over the head of Bjornson. Five minutes later Chelsea Torberg followed with a hard shot past Bjornson but that was all Brainerd was going to give up.
"Yesterday (Monday) we sat down and we talked about how we don't have to be afraid of anyone anymore," said Kohan. "We have the tools to beat anyone. We had a real aggressive practice Monday where we really worked on short quick motion around the ball and making contact.
"They came out and they did that. They just did what we worked on in practice. Plus, I think these kids finally have the confidence that they know they're a team now and they just aren't afraid of anyone."
St. Cloud Tech 2 0 -- 2
Brainerd 0 0 -- 0
First half -- 1, Tech-Deidra Brum (Meghan Jacobs) 6:00, 2, Tech-Chelsea Torberg (Melinda Beard) 13:00
Shots on goal (by halves) -- Brd 19-4 -- 23; Tech 14-21 -- 35
Goaltenders -- Brd Kate Bjornson (33 saves); Tech Jennifer Danzl (23 saves)
Conference -- Brd 4-6, Tech 10-1. Overall -- Brd 4-10, Tech 13-3. Next game -- Brainerd hosts Sartell 5 p.m. Thursday.
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