Sunshine and decent temperatures finally followed the Decorah girls’ varsity soccer team (2-4) onto the pitch in an away game against Dubuque Hempstead (5-1) Thursday. The first half saw the teams evenly matched, but some unexpectedly placed shots from the Mustangs ended the game in their favor, 3-0. The weather was a different story Friday when the Vikes were back in action with Clear Lake, that once again went to the opponent, 2-1.
Thursday’s game started out deadlocked, but the Mustangs took their lead in the last fourth of the first half, connecting a shot with the back of the net and setting the score to 1-0.
Decorah took a few shots of their own in the second half, however each connected directly with the Mustang goalkeeper. Dubuque’s next goal came from a rare and hard to counter long ball from the Mustang midfield. The defender blasted the ball from just past half pitch, sending it between goalkeeper Grace Bachelder’s fingers and the crossbar. “A fluke if I’ve ever seen one,” commented Coach Loren Hendrickson.
The third and final goal of the game came from a Mustang corner kick that was allowed just as time ran out in the second half. Given the unusual circumstances, Coach Hendrickson commented that there was a level of shock that the game was still proceeding. In certain stadium settings where the girls play, the final whistle would have blown before the kick. The Mustangs were able to score in the confusion, bringing the total score to 0-3 for Dubuque Hempstead.
“If there is a positive to be taken from this game, it would be that our girls are starting to pass a little better,” Hendrickson said. “They are seeing their open teammates better. If we can improve the accuracy of our passes now, we can really get the ship moving in the right direction.”
The early part of the Friday’s game had both teams making forays into opposition territory, with no good chances to be had by either side.
Almost 10 minutes into the half, freshman Sara Johanningmeier blocked an attempted clearance and the ball deflected almost to the penalty spot. Showing veteran composure from such a young player, Johanningmeier calmly slotted her shot inside the right post for a 1-0 lead by Decorah. Just a couple minutes later, a foul was called in Decorah’s penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick for Clear Lake. Their player was able to convert to make it 1-1, a score that held until halftime.
The second half was a see-saw affair like the first, with Decorah getting much the better scoring opportunities. However, with about 10 minutes to go in the game, a free kick was awarded to Clear Lake from about 25 yards away. The kick was placed near the left goal post and the Viking goalkeeper had it easily covered, but the wet ball skipped off the ground and right through her hands for what turned into the winning goal.
“I felt bad for our keeper because she makes that save 99 percent of the time. It was unfortunate that this game was that odd 1 per cent,” said Coach Hendrickson. “This was a disappointing loss as Clear Lake didn’t present anything we couldn’t handle. The breaks just went their way. I did tell our girls after the game that we need to take a look inside ourselves and find ways to put these types of games away early. Don’t let teams hang around and allow the chance for a lucky break.”
Monday, Decorah hosted Denver and will take to their home pitch once again on Tuesday, April 26, in a game against Waverly-Shell Rock at 5 p.m.