North Branch junior Mercedey Harper attempts to dribble around a Mankato West defender in the Girl's Class 1A, State Quarterfinal at Prior Lake High School. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
North Branch avenged last year’s 7-1 Class 1A state quarterfinal loss against Mankato West in the best way possible Wednesday at Prior Lake.
“We talked about it a lot. We knew that we could do it,” North Branch junior attacker Mercedey Harper said. “This is a new team, and we did it.”
Harper scored twice for unseeded North Branch in the second half in a 2-1 upset of No. 2 seed Mankato West (17-1-3).
The Scarlets tried desperately for a goal in the final minutes.
“We just missed a couple connections here and there,” Scarlets coach Crissy Makela said. “That’s just sometimes the way it goes.”
Scarlets junior forward Ahsley Gustavson set her team up well in the first half with a goal assisted by senior forward McKenna Buisman. They sustained the lead for the final 26:41 of the half and about the first eight minutes of the second half.
Harper scored for North Branch to tie the game 1-1 with 32:43 left in the game. Senior midfielder Savannah Linkert assisted on the goal.
North Branch (16-3-1) grabbed the lead when Harper drew a penalty kick and scored. It was her second successful penalty kick of the season.
“I felt confident going out,” Harper said.
Vikings senior goalkeeper Claudia Anderson, who started in last year’s game against Mankato West, didn’t allow a goal for the final 66 minutes of the game.
“One of our team goals was ‘don’t get your head down,’” Anderson said. “I knew that we were going to play for each other. We’re usually a second half team, so knew second half, we had a good shot.”
Mankato West forward McKenna Buisman tries to break around North Branch's Sydney Sterbentz in the Girl's Class 1A, State Quarterfinal at Prior Lake High School. The Scarlets fell to the Vikings 2-1. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
North Branch avenged last year’s 7-1 Class 1A state quarterfinal loss against Mankato West on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory to advance to the semifinals on Monday at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Scarlets struck first in the opening half, but the Vikings tied the game early in the second half and then went ahead on a penalty kick.
Mankato West, the 2016 state runner-up, came into this year’s state tournament unbeaten at 17-0-3 as the No. 2 seed. North Branch (16-3-1) entered the tourney unseeded.
Check back later for more on the game.