MOORHEAD -- With only five seniors graduating there's a possibility the Brainerd Warriors will play for another Section 8, Class 2A girls' soccer championship in the near future.
In the first section final appearance in program history Thursday, the second-seeded Warriors ran into a highly skilled No. 1 seed in the Moorhead Spuds, who registered a 3-1 victory on a windy, drizzling day in the Red River Valley.
It was the third straight section title for the Spuds, who have won four of the last five championships.
"The difference between the teams (Thursday) is Moorhead's been here, they're the experienced team," Warriors coach Steve Kimble said. "They've been here a number of times.
"This is our first trip and hopefully this will be one of many down the road. We've come a long way. We're going to go home excited about the year we had, and I don't think we'll hang our heads for long."
Moorhead 3, Warriors 1
Overall -- Brainerd finishes 14-2-4, Moorhead improves to 15-2-2.
With a stiff wind roaring out of the southwest, it was a decided advantage for the team with the wind at its back. In the first half that team was Moorhead. During that span the Spuds scored two goals and outshot Brainerd 8-1.
"My theory is to defend (against the wind) first," Kimble said. "Everyone's got their own (theory). Mine is to defend it first, let us get in the game, try to hold them to zeroes, then get the advantage, but they put two in.
"That's a big hole to come back from, plus they scored into the wind. What can you do about that? Moorhead is absolutely a great team."
In the second half, with the wind in their faces, the Spuds broke Brainerd's collective back with their third goal, a Sabrina Sam's header, with 12:50 remaining. A three-goal deficit proved too much for Brainerd to overcome in difficult conditions.
"They're accustomed to playing in this wind and they're smart about keeping the ball on the ground," Kimble said. "When the ball gets in the air the wind will control it. When the ball is on the ground things will happen as they should.
"They played up the field very well with the ball on the ground. That's what they do. It's their home field, and they made the most of it."
Freshman Jessica Bye scored the Warriors' only goal, off a corner kick by Beth Sexton, with 1:54 to play.
"It wasn't really any of me," Bye said. "Beth and Dani (Uphoff) did their short corner. It just came right to me and I knocked it off my left foot."
Until Bye's goal the Warriors' scoring opportunities were minimal. In the second half, during which Brainerd outshot the Spuds 5-2, Emily Lorenz blasted a shot over the goal. She later put a hard shot on net from outside the goal box that Spuds goalie Stacy Johnson handled.
Tricia Vanyo opened the scoring at 18:04 of the first with a header. She headed a floating kick by Sam, beating Brainerd goalie Melissa Hanson to the left side.
About 15 minutes later Vanyo scored again when her shot trickled between Hanson's legs.
"Two of their goals were absolutely awesome," Kimble said. "One was kind of bouncing around. When you score that quality of goals in a section final game what can you do about it?"
Brainerd 0 1 -- 1
Moorhead 2 1 -- 3
First half -- Moor-Tricia Vanyo (Sabrina Sam) 18:04; Moor-Vanyo (Tracy Ritland) 3:42
Second half -- Moor-Sam (Anne Boyd) 12:50; Brd-Jessica Bye (Beth Sexton) 1:54
Shots on goal -- Brd 1 5 -- 6, Moor 8 2 -- 10
Goalies -- Brd-Melissa Hanson (7 saves), Moor-Stacy Johnson (5 saves)
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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