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Girls Soccer: Warriors blank Otters with big second half

Brainerd hosts Fergus Falls Sept. 20

Girls kicking the soccer ball.
Brainerd Warrior Emma Balsley moves the ball down the field with Gabby Eckman in the background Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at Adamson Field.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Brainerd needed a comfortable win.

And the Warriors got it with a 7-0 Central Lakes Conference win over the Fergus Falls Otters Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Adamson Field.

“I think it’s something we talked about as a team and that’s to put a team away,” Warriors head coach Grant Gmeinder said. “So it was awesome to see. It was 2-0 in the first half and we played pretty well, but we turned it on in the second half and finished them off.”

Paige Yeager and Emma Sheflo each tallied two goals a piece. Emma Balsley tallied two assists and a goal.

Gabby Eckman added a goal and an assist.

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Yeager got the scoring started for the Warriors seven minutes into the game. Brainerd then received an own goal when the Otters kicked in a Gretchen Paysse corner.

“I was really happy to finish off that breakaway,” Yeager said. “Just because I haven't had a lot of those this season.”

After taking a 2-0 lead into halftime, Eckman scored 39 seconds into the second half. Yeager followed it with her second goal six minutes later.

“We were hoping to come out with the energy that we started with,” Yeager said. “We kind of lost it throughout the game, but we came out really strong again and we just finished the game well as a team.”

The Warriors kept the pedal on the gas when Balsley scored from Eckman with 22:11 left.

Emma Sheflo scored the last two Warrior goals in the final 12 minutes. One was assisted by Sophia Menghini and the other by Balsley.

“I think we work really well together, especially the seniors,” Yeager said. “I think we are trusting each other to finish the plays we are making for each other.”

Gracelyn Dickinson notched four saves and Chloe Patrick had one save for the Warriors.

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Gmeinder liked the balanced scoring attack his team showed. He also said they moved the ball well.

“That’s the answer,” he said. “We haven’t scored as many goals as we thought to start the year, but we’ve also played a tough schedule. The way the girls shared the ball tonight — every goal was an assist from the other — that’s how we are going to get it done this year. Everyone pitching in.

“It’s great to see these girls translating it onto the field. It’s beautiful soccer.”

The Warriors travel to Alexandria for another Central Lakes Conference match Thursday.

“We just need to keep the ball movement and the fluidity that translates into wins,” Gmeinder said.

Fergus Falls 0 0 — 0

Brainerd 2 5 — 7

First half: Brd-Paige Yeager (Molly Hagelie) 33:39; Brd-own goal 8:05

Second half: Brd-Gabby Eckman (Yeager) 39:21, Brd-Yeager (Emma Balsley) 33:20; Brd-Emma Balsley (Eckman) 22:11, Brd-Emma Sheflo (Sophia Menghini) 12:07; Brd-Sheflo (Balsley) 6:06

Shots on goal: Brd 27, FF 5

Goalkeepers: Brd-Gracelyn Dickinson (4 saves), Chloe Patrick (1 save)

Warriors 7, Fergus Falls 0

Key: Paige Yeager and Emma Sheflo both scored twice for the Warriors in a blowout win
Conference: Brd 3-1-1, FF 2-4.
Overall: Brd 4-3-1, FF 6-4.
Next: Brainerd at Alexandria 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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