Visitation's senior forward Maggie Conners (7) scored the only goal of the night in a 1-0 win over Holy Angels. Photo by Cheryl Myers/SportsEngine
Maggie Conners doesn’t mind the pressure of handling the ball against multiple defenders.
“It’s one of my favorite feelings, honestly,” the senior forward said after she scored the lone goal in Visitation’s 1-0 home win over Tri-Metro Conference rival Holy Angels on Tuesday night.
“Once you touch (the ball) past the defenders and it’s just you and the net, there’s nothing like it,” Conners added. “You just go and instinct takes over.”
Conners displayed her superior instincts in the 52nd minute when the Gonzaga commit collected a Blazers goal kick and pushed it past two Holy Angels defenders, then outran everyone to the ball before sending a ground shot by Stars goalkeeper Sheridan Thorp.
While her shot was picture-perfect, it's one Conners won't be able to replay in her mind.
“Half the time I don’t remember aiming,” Conners said with a laugh. “I’m just in the moment.”
Conners' impressive score was a result of a booming goal kick from junior goalkeeper Samantha Burke, who said her powerful passes may look like errant passes to the untrained eye, but are usually intended for Conners to do exactly what she did on Tuesday.
“Get it over (the defender’s) head and (let Conners) go for it because she’s extremely fast,” said Burke, adding she has no qualms about sending the ball deep down field.
“I’m very confident (in Conners), especially on the punts,” she said.
The rest of her teammates also have no reason to doubt Conners' ability. She is one of the state’s leading scorers this season, totaling 16 goals in eight games. It's a torrid pace that has her on course to surpass the 20 goals she scored a year ago and has fueled Visitation's climb up the Class 1A coaches rankings, where the Blazers are No. 6 in the latest poll.
Tuesday’s win was also the first time Burke, Conners and Blazers coach Jay Miller, who has been at the helm of the program for four seasons, have defeated the Stars, who also happens to be a Class 1A, Section 3 foe.
“Last year, it was pretty tough losing to (Holy Angels) in the section finals,” Conners said. “So this is kind of like a redemption year for us, and we’re really excited to see where it goes.”
Miller allowed that he was proud of his team’s milestone win over the No. 7-1A Stars, but remains cautious about letting the victory invade his team’s focused mindset.
“I’ve coached long enough to know that you can make too much of situations like this,” Miller said. “It’s good to keep everything in perspective because that can work against you sometimes.”
While Burke and Conners agree with Miller’s restrained optimism, Burke said the sting of falling one game short of a state tournament berth last year also keeps the Blazers (7-1, 2-0) grounded.
“Getting that close, it makes you realize much work it takes to the very end,” Burke said. “We’re only halfway through the season, we’ve got a lot more work to do.”
Emma Davies (19) moves the ball upfield for Holy Angles past Visitation's Sammie Sabin (9). Photo by Cheryl Myers/SportsEngine.
Maggie Conners scored in the 52nd minute to lift Visitation to a 1-0 home victory over Tri-Metro Conference rival Holy Angels on Tuesday night in Mendota Heights.
Conners' goal was a combination of footwork, speed and power and showed why the senior forward is one of the state's top scorers.
Conners touched a Visitation goal kick past two Holy Angels defenders at midfield, won the ensuing footrace to the ball and deftly grounded a shot past Stars junior goalkeeper Sheridan Thorp for her team-leading 16th goal of the season.
Junior goalkeeper Samantha Burke made nine saves in the shutout for the Blazers (7-1, 2-0), ranked No. 6 in the Class 1A state coaches’ poll.
Thorp finished with eight saves the No. 7-1A Stars (3-2, 0-1).
Junior goaltender Samantha Burke preserved the win for Visitation with nine saves. Photo by Cheryl Myers/SportsEngine.