NEW BRIGHTON - The Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team made its second straight appearance in the state tournament Wednesday and for a second straight year it faced top-seeded Woodbury.
The Royals started fast and the Warriors found themselves in a big hole early, one they were unable to recover from in their 3-0 defeat in the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
Brainerd concludes its season with 17 wins for a second consecutive year and sends out a group of seniors who captured four consecutive conference titles.
Head coach Steve Kimble said his team gave its best effort Wednesday but Woodbury was too good of a team.
"Woodbury, I don't know what to say, they're just amazing," he said. "We're happy we made it here twice. The effort was there, their hearts were in it, but Woodbury is playing soccer at another level.
Brainerd senior midfielder Megan Bates (center) and a Woodbury Royal went up for an attempted header during the Class 2A state soccer tournament quarterfinals Wednesday at Irondale High School in New Brighton. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"Hats off to these seniors, they've had a great career. They set a high standard for our program. We're going to try and celebrate that rather than worrying about the loss."
If the Warriors had any sort of nerves or intimidation due to the fact they were facing the defending state champions, Woodbury did little to ease those concerns as they got on the board at 2:08 on a goal by Alyssa DuVal
Nearly twelve minutes later, the Royals punched in their second goal, this one by Mary Kroening, who lifted a shot over the head of Brainerd keeper Erin Olejnicak at 14:05.
Warriors' junior Kelly Rosenthal, who was named to the Class 2A all-state first team earlier in the week, said it was difficult to be handed such an early deficit.
"It was hard being down right away, but we didn't give up and played the full 80 minutes," she said. "They are good and we respected them as a team. We knew it would be tough."
Kimble said early-game nerves by the Warriors played a part in allowing Woodbury to jump out to its 2-0 advantage.
"Came out with a little bit of stage fright," he said. "Let a few early ones in. But after we got that out of our systems, we hung with them."
The second half was played in a much more even fashion as both squads managed just three shots on goal.
Woodbury scored its third and final score on Kelsey Wright's goal at 48:28.
Woodbury 3, Warriors 0
The key: Woodbury's Alyssa DuVal snuck a goal past Warriors' keeper Erin Olejnicak just two minutes into the contest
Overall: Brd, 17-3
The final thirty-plus minutes of the Warriors' season were scoreless.
Despite the disappointing loss, Rosenthal said the 2007 Warriors' squad was a special one.
"This was my favorite year, favorite team," she said. "This is the closest team I've ever been on. We're going to lose a lot of good seniors."
Kimble said the 2007 team has set a high standard for the Brainerd girls' soccer program.
"I've asked 'Are you going to be the team that sets the standard for the program which all other teams are measured?'" he said. "I think 2007 will be that year. This was a special group."
Brainerd 0 0 - 0
Woodbury 2 1 - 3
Wdbry-Alyssa DuVal 2:08
Wdbry-Mary Kroening 14:05
Wdbry-Kelsey Wright (assist Catherine Sessions) 48:28
Shots on goal: Brd 2-3 - 5; Wdbry 6-3 - 9
Goalkeepers: Brd-Erin Olejnicak (8 saves), Betsy van der Hagen (1 save); Wdbry-Brittany Cygan (5 saves)
TY RUSHMEYER, sports writer, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865
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