Two teams with little affinity for each other met for the third time this season but No. 2 Detroit Lakes took much of any pregame tension Laker players might have felt with two first half goals in a 2-0 victory over No. 3 East Grand Forks in the Section 8A quarterfinals at Rotary Soccer Park Saturday night.
Just over two minutes into the game, tri-captain Sidney Lundberg booted a corner kick to Anna Jones who buried the eventual game-winner with nearly the entire game still to play.
“It’s amazing,” said Lundberg. “That was one of our big things we talked about in practice - just come out strong.”
The Laker defenders and midfielders dueled with the Green Wave as the game settled down after the early score and play was away from either net.
East Grand Forks’ best opportunity of the first half came on a run into the penalty area for the Wave’s second shot of the half but it was off target over the crossbar.
DL junior Nicole Swanson broke Kerrigan Hallisey into the visiting penalty area in response with Emily Larson open on the left side but the play fizzled. Seconds later, however, Swanson got control of the ball and went top shelf for a 2-0 Laker lead in the 34th minute.
Shots in the first half were 4-2 Lakers and DL had the only two corner kicks of the opening 20 minutes.
“Our second half plan was definitely to hold them back and not let any goals in,” Lundberg said.
One major hurdle for Green Wave attackers in getting on the scoreboard was five-year starter and senior tri-captain Payton Carlblom between the pipes. As she has in two playoff games and leading DL to 12 wins in 18 games, Carlblom was in the right spot at the right time and negated any real threats to the home net.
“We really set the pace in the first half,” said Carlblom. “The last 15 minutes we were really able to contain them and they got frustrated,” Carlblom said.
Some of that frustration comes from three straight seasons of close games between the two teams. In the past seven meetings, the Lakers are 2-3-2 against East Grand. More importantly, this season DL is 2-0-1.
“They are our biggest rivals and beating them in section play is even better,” said Carlblom.
East Grand eighth-grader Kara Ellis had the best look at beating Carlblom with a shot from dead center of the box, but Carlblom simply bumped the ball back over her head and well over the crossbar. Junior defender Riley Regorrah lined up a free kick from near the circle at the center of the field and got her kick through but it escaped past the end line untouched.
The Lakers negated any other real scoring opportunities as time wound down and stormed the field at the final horn.
For Lundberg, Carlblom, fellow captain Elle Seaberg and the whole group of 11 seniors, making a push in the playoffs in their last opportunity to do so is key to the mindset and this team plays with a sense of urgency.
“We’re excited to make it past the quarters,” said Lundberg. “We definitely think we can do good this year.”
“This is our year, our last year,” said Carlblom.
The Lakers (12-3-3) advance to face the top seed in the south subsection Sartell-St. Stephen (10-5-2) in Sartell Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.
The Sabres defeated No. 4 Sauk Rapids-Rice by a score of 4-3.
“We’re just going to go there with a positive mindset and we’re on a roll right now, so we’re not going to stop,” Carlblom said.
In the other semifinal, No. 1 Bemidji plays No. 2 St. Cloud Cathedral (10-5-2).
The Lumberjacks (12-4-2) were nearly upset by No. 5 Fergus Falls (7-9-2) scoring in the final minute and early in overtime to stop the Otters’ bid 2-1. Cathedral also went to extra time defeating No. 3 Apollo 3-2 in OT.