Bluejacket soccer teams battle but fall in playoffs

C-I defender Thessa Daniels let loose a goal kick against the Rangers in the Oct. 10 playoff match.  Photos by Kat Ladwig, Forest Lake Times

C-I defender Thessa Daniels let loose a goal kick against the Rangers in the Oct. 10 playoff match. Photos by Kat Ladwig, Forest Lake Times

The Cambridge-Isanti girls soccer team had its season come to a close with a 2-0 loss at Forest Lake in the Section 7AA quarterfinals. The Bluejackets finished 2013 with an even record of 7-7-1.

“Forest Lake’s defense was a real steel trap. Our mids and wings were able to get up into the forward position and support the striker a few times as our formation is designed to do, however we struggled to move the ball past their defenders for shots,” described C-I Coach Mike Galligan.

Five minutes into the second half, the Rangers’ most dangerous player, senior forward Lara Steinhoff won a one-on-one battle and fired a shot which careened off the inside of the post over the outstretched hands of C-I keeper Justine Larson.

The Bluejackets toughened up and drove on with perseverance and tenacity, holding the score to 1-0 until with 13 minutes left in the game. Forest Lake rocketed a free kick home from the top left of the eighteen yard box for the final margin.

Coach Galligan’s season wrap: “Justine Larson ended her career with some stellar saves to rack up another 13 for the night, bringing her season total to 177. Along with only allowing 18 goals on a 15 game season which gives her a .907 save percentage, she made the top 10 of keepers, ranked 7th in the state as reported on the MN SoccerHub website run by the Minneapolis StarTribune.

“As the season wound down my assistant Bob Benes and I both commented to each other on the high caliber of this squad and their ability to use the ball and our formation effectively.  Considering our plethora of quality midfielders this season, we decided to use a 4-5-1 in which the midfielders and wings are expected to move up and play more like a forward on the attack, then drop and play defense on the counterattack.

“They did so with great determination and skill, and along with our very fast and strong-shooting strikers, this resulted in our scoring for the season reaching a total of 24 goals, just one shy of last season’s total but with the bonus of spreading the scoring among seven different players. We couldn’t be happier with that result.

“The ball possession that this group of mids and wings created aided the defense by keeping the ball out of our territory. Combined with the incredible defensive play of our four back line members and the stonewall goal keeping by Larson, this led to a Goals Against Average of just 1.26 per game and an even more extraordinary drop in total goals against, from 40 GAA in 2012 to just 19 GAA in 2013. Again, we could not be more proud of our team and their classy, tenacious playing style.”

• No. 2 seed Andover beat Forest Lake 2-1 in the Oct. 12 semifinals. The Huskies then got past No. 1 Coon Rapids 4-2 in the shootout in the Oct. 15 Section 7AA championship.

Bluejacket coaches Bob Benes (left) and Mike Galligan counseled the girls at the end of the playoff match in Forest Lake.

Bluejacket coaches Bob Benes (left) and Mike Galligan counseled the girls at the end of the playoff match in Forest Lake.

Centennial 3,  C-I Boys 0

In its Oct. 10 Section 7AA opener at Centennial, the Cambridge-Isanti boys finished the season with a 3-0 loss to the Cougars.

“Our team put out great effort in our playoff game at Centennial.  The score was 1-0 for three-quarters of the game, and we actually scored in the first half, but it was taken away from us through an off-sides call,” said C-I Coach Charles Kieffer.

He continued, “I think we had a good season overall finishing, with a 7-7-1 record. I appreciate all the hard work my players put in throughout the season.  It was a good group of guys to work with.  I also appreciate the support given by all the parents and the booster club.”

Centennial went on to defeat defending 7AA champ Blaine 2-1 in the Oct. 12 semifinals. The Andover boys swept the Section 7AA titles with the girls by defeating the Cougars 2-1 in the Oct. 15 finals.

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