By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
With 9:20 left in the Section 2A semifinal girls soccer match, St. Peter goalie Maria Siebels moved to her left to cut down the angle on a 30-foot shot by Mankato East forward Marta Anderson.
Anderson rifled the shot, which Siebels knocked down, and the ball was cleared by a defender. The save preserved Siebels' shutout as the Saints knocked off the No. 1-seeded Cougars 1-0 at Thomas O. Anderson field.
“I think my heart stopped on that one,” Siebels said. “East has such good forwards who can shoot the ball that I never imagined we'd get a shutout today. Our defense just played really well.”
The Saints went into the game as the No. 4 seed. They had played East earlier in the season and lost 3-1, and coach Karl Larson said his players were on a mission to show they were more competitive than that.
“We just wanted to prove that we could play with them,” Larson said. “We started the year 3-5, and we had a team meeting, and from that point, we’ve won 10 of last 11. The girls were determined to turn it around.
“Our games with East are always a slobberknocker. Akram (Osman) has done a great job with that team making them contenders every year.”
The game’s only goal was scored in the 24th minute. St. Peter’s Maggie Anderson took a shot that East goalie Kelsey Ekstedt stopped, but Marta Springer quickly pumped the rebound into the open net.
“Maggie did most of the work,” Springer said. “(Their goalie) was out of position when I got the ball so the net was wide open. I didn’t think at the time that that would be the goal that wins the game.”
Although both teams had chances after that, none were successful. After intermission, Larson made the decision to keep six defenders back the rest of the way.
“We just felt it was a good idea at that point,” Larson said. “About halfway through the second half, we bought a seventh defender back, too. We didn’t want to give their forwards much room to operate.”
East (14-4) outshot the Saints 9-4. The Cougars also had three corner kicks to St. Peter's one.
When it was over, East coach Osman said his players had nothing to hang their heads about.
“Our girls played well, they played hard,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. St. Peter just got that early goal and we couldn’t come back.”
St. Peter (13-6-1) returns to North Mankato om Thursday to take on Mankato West at 3 p.m. for the Section 2A championship at Dakota Meadows Field.