Chippewa Falls’ Ethan Sarauer received a ball directly in front of the Eau Claire North goal. As Huskies defenders swarmed him, Sarauer turned and fired on net. But freshman keeper Caden Eberle wasn’t ready to give up his shutout. Instead, Eberle made a diving stop, saving the day for North who also couldn’t find the back of the net in a 0-0 draw on Tuesday night at Eau Claire North.
“Their goalkeeper made a fantastic save in the second half,” Cardinals first-year head coach Al Ali said.
Eberle has been thrust into starting goalkeeper duties while senior Ayden White recovers from a UCL strain in his left elbow.
“We asked him to step in and play a big, big role on this team,” North coach Terry Albrecht said of Eberle.
It’s been a nerve-wracking transition for the freshman. He said he has been helped by White who is doing his best to show Eberle the ropes, but still, practice reps don’t compare with game time.
“It was pretty difficult, there were some pretty nice shots on goal,” Eberle said. “But I came through.”
He made seven saves for the Huskies and credited his defense for coming up big for him.
On the other side of the ball, Ali said he was pleased with his team’s performance. The Cardinals allowed just four shots on net, leaving keeper Ryan Krumenauer without much action during the game.
He smothered a free kick at the 12-minute mark from Jack Echternach and watched another Echternach shot go over his net at the 22-minute mark, but otherwise his defense held the Huskies in check.
“They’re holding their own even though they’ve been under duress all season,” Ali said of his defense. “I’m really happy with the way they’re going right now.”
With almost half his team made up of freshmen and sophomores, Ali is just looking for progress from his team this season. He said his plan is to continue to develop the program over the next few years as his young core grows and matures.
“We know it’s going to take time to take it over and turn things around a little bit, but we do see a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “It might take a little longer than some people might hope.”
Albrecht was less pleased with his team’s performance.
“We need to do a better job passing, controlling, and a lot of it is mentality, once you get the ball, it’s one look and dribble instead of finding the open man,” he said. “Practice is going to be pretty interesting tomorrow.”
Both teams return to action on Thursday with Chippewa Falls playing host to Hudson at 7 p.m. while the Huskies hit the road and head to River Falls at 7 p.m.
Eau Claire North 0, Chippewa Falls 0
North 0 0 — 0
Chi-Hi 0 0 — 0
Shots: North 4, Chi-Hi 7.
Saves: North (Caden Eberle) 7, Chi-Hi (Ryan Krumenauer) 4.
Records: North 1-4-2; Chi-Hi 0-6-1