Minnehaha Academy's Millie Finn (10) collides with Blake ninth-grader Kate Willoughby during the first half of the Bears' 3-0 victory at St. Thomas Academy. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Blake's Maddie Tix (11) celebrates her second-half goal with teammate Morgan Phillips. The Bears scored three goals in the second half to win 3-0. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
On paper, Minnehaha Academy girls’ soccer team had a home game. But because of an Aug. 2 gas explosion at the school, a displaced Redhawks team took on Blake at Mendota Heights-based St. Thomas Academy, dropping the matchup 3-0 on an unfamiliar blue-and-white-lined turf.
The Bears (5-0-1), with their depth and multiple waves of attack, proved why they are the top-ranked team in the Class 1A coaches' poll in winning this chapter of a rivalry that dates back 43 years.
Despite the last 30 minutes of the match, where Blake dominated on offense, continuously pushing the ball deep into Minnehaha Academy territory and bringing home three close-range goals that almost danced out of bounds, the Bears showed solidarity with the Redhawks and the tragedy that rocked the Christian private school last month.
Like every team in the Independent Metro Athletic Conference, the Bears donned red wristbands during warmups, and placed them on the scorers table for the game.
“It’s a conference thing, but it’s in support of Minnehaha,” Blake coach Paul Menge said. “The girls...wanted to show their support and (Minnehaha) was very appreciative.”
Calling it “kind of an act of solidarity and support” from IMAC and its teams, Minnehaha Academy coach Mark Anderson said, “Everywhere we go, people are just making efforts to show support, that they’re thinking about us and they’re caring for us and they wish the best for us.”
Blake broke the no-score at the 19:07 mark in the second half with a Maddie Tix goal -- her fourth of the season. With less than 10 minutes to play, senior defender Kyra Willoughby blasted past the defenders and buried a second goal high above goalkeeper Jo Brown’s head, extending the Bears lead to two.
“That second half, we started to play like we’re capable of,” Menge said. “I thought the first half, actually, we lacked a little bit of energy -- and the players mentioned that at halftime too.”
As the clock entered its waning minutes, freshman midfielder Cate Moe sealed the game with a third and final goal from close range. It was her fourth of the season, tying Tix and freshman Sara McClanahan as team leaders.
“Once we scored, it felt like we just had control of things and we just got stronger as things went along,” Menge said.
After a strong first half, the Redhawks started to get worn down by Blake’s depth, Anderson said.
Brown made 11 saves for Minnehaha Academy (5-1), which just came off a 6-0 win over Legacy Christian. They will host Maranatha Christian Academy/West Lutheran on Saturday.
Minnehaha Academy coach Mark Anderson reacts to a near miss on a Redhawks rush on the Blake goal. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Blake topped Minnehaha Academy 3-0 on Thursday night at St. Thomas Academy.
Ranked No. 1 in 1A the coaches' poll, Blake dominated on offense and spread the ball around, earning three second-half goals from junior forward Maddie Tix, senior defender Kyra Willoughby and freshman midfielder Cate Moe. While there was plenty of back-and-forth in the first half, the Bears (5-0-1) dominated the second half, controlling the tempo and continuously testing Redhawks’ goalkeeper Jo Brown, however, she made 11 saves.
The Redhawks' (5-1) game had to be moved to St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights after an Aug. 2 gas explosion left glass and debris on their turf.
Blake senior goalkeeper Lucia Warner made three saves, including a good shot-on-goal from Minnehaha Academy midfielder Cat Duffy-Shaw 24 minutes into the second half.
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