Blake midfielder Amelia Reyes keeps the ball out of reach from DeLaSalle defender Isabella Benjamin in the Class 1A, Section 5 final at Osseo High School. The Bears beat the Islanders 3-0. Photo by Meagan Lynch, SportsEngine
The scoreboard at Osseo High School is directly behind the east goal. With under 15 minutes left in the Class 1A, Section 5 championship game between Blake and DeLaSalle, the scoreboard read 0-0.
KK Haug, a canter back, was aware of the scoreboard at the moment, but her eyes were set on goal when she made a run of over 40 yards, beating multiple defenders, on her way to a game-winning goal for the Bears.
“I just looked up and I was like, ‘I know I can beat her, I know I can do it’ and I just kept going,” Haug said when describing the play.
“That’s one of the top-10, single-handed game-changers I’ve seen in my 20-plus years of coaching soccer,” Blake coach Paul Menge said.
The goal that ended the scoreless tie was made more satisfying for the Bears because it came after they had hit the post three times on previous chances in the game. Haug hit the post after a similar long-run led to her creeping a shot past Islanders’ goalkeeper Kate Graham.
“In this game you have to convert on your chances but you also have to be a little bit lucky,” Menge said. “Until you get that first goal, you’re sitting on pins and needles.”
The first goal seemed to relieve Blake’s (13-4-2) anxiousness, because they closed the game out with two more goals -- one by Amelia Reyes and one by Sara McMlanahan -- to secure the win and a trip to the state tournament.
DeLaSalle (12-6-1) came into the game as the 3-seed underdogs, while Blake was the 1-seed. But coming up with the upset was going to be more difficult without senior midfielder Ansley Atkinson, who was sidelined with an injury.
“She makes players around her better, so now players are going to have to make themselves better,” DeLaSalle coach Tim McDonald said.
Every team but one ends the season on a loss, and that fate fell on the Islanders tonight. While the loss was disappointing, McDonald is optimistic about his team’s chances next season.
“I have a pretty young team,” he said. “I have lots of pieces coming back. I have lots of girls that have tons of heart, and I have a team that really believes, and that’s huge.”
Blake will celebrate the section championship tonight, and the rest of the week will be spent preparing for the state tournament. Menge believes the Bears have an advantage heading into the tournament because they’ve played some of the toughest teams in the state already this season.
He emphasized brushing up on specific details over the week, not changing anything about the system, having confidence in the system and “making sure the kids have fun.”
Blake defender KK Haug gets a hold of the ball at the Class 1A, Section 5 Final against DeLaSalle at Osseo High School. The Bears beat the Islanders 3-0. Photos by Meagan Lynch, SportsEngine
With less than 15 minutes left in the Class 1A, Section 5 championship game, the score tied 0-0, it seemed like overtime would be required to break the deadlock between Blake and DeLaSalle.
Then KK Haug decided to lift her team to state.
Haug, a defender, made a run of over 40 yards, weaving her way past defenders on her way to slotting a low shot across goal from the left side, neatly placing the ball into the bottom right corner.
The Bears (13-4-2) would add two goals, one from Amelia Reyes and one from Sara McMlanahan to secure a 3-0 victory over the Islanders (12-6-1) and secure a spot in the Class 1A state tournament.
The pace of the game was dictated by the Bears, who had more possession and had significantly more dangerous chances.
In the first half, the Bears, who finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in the Class 1A coaches' poll, hit the post twice. Maddie Tix hit the post on a curving shot from the right side of the net, while Kyra Reese struck the crossbar after a half-volley was deflected by an Islander.
Before Haug scored the opening goal, she hit the post on a shot from just outside the goal line. It creeped past Kate Graham, the Islander goalkeeper, and bounced off the post and to the feet of an Islander defender to clear.
DeLaSalle forward Maggie Haller kicks the ball down the field at the Class 1A, Section 5 final against Blake at Osseo High School. The Islanders lost to the Bears 0-3. Photo by Meagan Lynch, SportsEngine
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