It took four games and 37 minutes, but the Eau Claire North Huskies finally broke through, scoring their first goal of the season Thursday night at home against the Menomonie Mustangs.
Anna Kent curled a perfect corner kick just in front of the Mustangs’ keeper, allowing Sydnie Steinmetz to head in the Huskies’ lone goal in their 1-0 victory over Menomonie.
“It feels awesome just to have that weight lifted off our shoulders,” Steinmetz said.
The Huskies have not practiced corner kicks this season, according to head coach Terry Albrecht, but he said he likes Kent’s strong leg taking the corners and her ability to drive the ball into the crowded area near the net.
Steinmetz — who played defense throughout the game — was in the right place at the right time for North, using her 5-foot-4 frame to send the ball into the top right corner of the net.
“It’s crazy, I’ve never done that before,” Steinmetz said. “To see Anna all excited, we ran toward each other and it was a cool feeling.”
In the second half, the Huskies had a chance to score another on a 59th minute corner, but eventually the Mustangs keeper snuffed out the opportunity.
As a team, the Huskies took six corners and had 13 shots on net, way too many, according to Mustangs’ coach Deanna Muñoz.
“You can’t give up (that many) corner kicks and expect to win,” Muñoz said.
It was another one-goal loss for the Mustangs, who dropped seven games by one score last season.
“We’re getting better,” Muñoz said. “We used to get mercied all the time as a program and we’re not doing that anymore.”
The Mustangs had five shots on goal in the game, but all were stopped by the Huskies who switched from starting keeper Alessa Eilts to Olivia Laube at halftime.
“We don’t want to have an injury happen and then not have a second goalie available.” Albrecht said. “For the time being, we’re just going to keep alternating goalies.”
Eilts returns to the team with varsity goalkeeping experience from last year. She will be competing with Laube, who Albrecht said is “very, very athletic with really good hands.”
Ideally, Albrecht would like to have one goalkeeper late on in the season, but for the time being he’s happy to work with both of the girls.
As a team, the Huskies are young and inexperienced, according to Albrecht. They return six seniors from last year, but have three freshmen and seven sophomores playing varsity.
“With new players coming up we’ve definitely had to adjust,” Kent said.
“But we’re getting used to it.”
Despite the Mustangs’ loss, Muñoz is confident in her team and the way it matches up against the Huskies.
“I think our team is very evenly matched and I can’t wait to play them at our home field,” Muñoz said.
The teams will face off again on May 14 at Menomonie.
“I fully expect to beat them at our home field,” Muñoz said.
Eau Claire North 1, Menomonie 0
Menomonie 0 0 — 0
North 1 0 — 1
Goals: 1, North, Sydnie Steinmetz (Anna Kent), 37th minute.
Shots: Menomonie, 5, North, 13. Saves: Menomonie, 11, North, 5.