Orono forward Anna Hughes heads the ball to Reiley Prueter (right) for a scoring play against Blake in the first half Thursday at Orono. The Spartans and Bears played to a 1-1 draw in a battle of top-10 Class 1A teams. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Blake junior Jade Sund battles for possession with an Orono defender Thursday at Orono High School. The Bears and Spartans played to a 1-1 draw. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
The Orono girls' soccer team, ranked No. 1 in the Class 1A coaches' poll, wore hunting gear to school Thursday in anticipation of their regular season matchup at home with No. 4-1A Blake that evening.
Unbeaten, the Spartans wanted to be the aggressor against a skilled Bears team, but found themselves under pressure in the second half. Orono surrendered a goal in the 75th minute to help send the game to overtime, where no one scored, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
“It wasn't our best game. I've seen them play better,” Spartans coach Erin Murray said. “It was a battle with Blake. It’s been a few games since we’ve been challenged so I think that played a part in it, but overall I’m happy with the outcome.”
Orono showed some aggression in the 33rd minute when Anna Hughes sent a header high in the air. Leah Goehring, a first-team all-state selection last season, played the ball off the bounce and chipped it toward Blake’s net. Bears goalkeeper Tyler Libert pursued the ball and collided with Spartans sophomore Reiley Prueter, who connected her knee with the ball, sending it bouncing to the back of net.
Warner had played aggressively out of the net throughout the first half, and Prueter said she felt Warner’s presence but wasn’t concerned.
“It was very intimidating. I saw her coming out the corner of my eye, but said ‘I can’t miss this’ and stuck my knee out and luckily it went in,” Prueter said of her first career varsity goal.
From there, the Spartans (12-0-2, 8-0-1) relied on sophomore goalkeeper Clare Gagne, who made a pair of diving saves in the second half to protect her team’s lead until the Bears (9-4-2, 3-1-0) struck with less than six minutes remaining.
Freshman Cate Moe placed several free kicks in the scoring area and saw her work come to fruition in the 75th minute as she crossed the ball off a corner kick into the 18-yard box, where fellow freshman Amelia Reyes tapped in an equalizer.
The goal was just the sixth Gagne has allowed this season as one of the state’s top goalkeepers. She’s stopped 59 of 65 shots this season, and finished the game with six saves, while Warner stopped three.
The Spartans will complete the regular season unbeaten for the first time in program history if they can pick up a point at Providence Academy on Saturday. Keeping a unique spread of dress-up days has helped Orono stay focused and enjoy each game.
“They have secret buddies, dress-up days, these traditions they have help build the team chemistry they have off the field,” Murray said.
The MN Soccer Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.