The Eau Claire North girls soccer team held off the mounting pressure for as long as it could. In the end though, Abigail Stow and Memorial were not going to be denied.
Stow scored both goals for the Old Abes as they scraped out a 2-1 victory over the Huskies on Tuesday at Memorial.
The Abes had a plethora of scoring chances and controlled most of the possession, but for the most part North held them at bay. Memorial outshot the Huskies 17-2, but wasn’t able to convert an opportunity into the winner until the 77th minute.
“You’re going to have games like that where you feel like you’re beating your head against a wall until you can actually break through,” Memorial coach Scott DeRusha said. “Tonight was one of those where it just took patience. The kids did a nice job of not forcing anything.”
Ali Bowe helped Stow open the scoring early for the Old Abes (2-0-0). The senior sent a pass through the box past a charging goalkeeper in the fourth minute, and Stow knocked it into the back of an unguarded net.
North’s Hannah Brunner answered with a long-distance strike about four minutes later to tie the game. She sent the ball into the box from near midfield, and it soared just out of the reach of Memorial’s keeper with the help of some strong wind for an unlikely equalizer.
“Early in the game, I told the kids if you get that long hit from 30 yards out with the breeze, take a shot. Hannah stepped up and cracked one,” North coach Terry Albrecht said.
“That’s a defender’s dream ... a little bit of a breeze behind you, a good, strong strike, you hit it towards the frame and you never know what will happen.”
Neither team manufactured any scoring for the rest of the first half, despite a plethora of opportunities for Memorial. The Abes applied strong pressure midway through the period, but walked into the halftime break with nothing to show for it.
The Huskies (1-2-0) had a good look at goal in the 31st minute, but Memorial goalkeeper Morgan Priem dealt with it comfortably.
The Abes continued to pile on pressure in the second half, as a free kick from Jordan Barstad at the edge of the box missed the target and North goalkeeper Derica Ohms made a sliding stop on a well-hit strike by Bowe.
Stow finally found the breakthrough goal in the 77th minute. She latched onto a cross from Lauren Carmody in the box and slotted it in for the winning goal.
“We had lots of chances, but we didn’t have many breakthroughs, many quality chances. So when you do get those opportunities like that, you have to take advantage of them,” Stow said.
The goal was Memorial’s reward for consistent buildup play and continually getting in position to make something happen. Despite a strong-willed defensive effort, the Huskies could only hold the Abes off for so long.
“The kids really did a nice job. We really paid attention to our marks, took away the passing lanes as much as possible, and executed very well on what our thoughts were,” Albrecht said.
Neither team had practiced outdoors before this week, so both were still trying to get a feel for the game on an actual grass surface.
“We’ve been working on passing inside, but shooting and that kind of stuff, you can’t really practice that inside,” Stow said. “We’re not quite at our peak there yet.”