Senior forward Josie Kramer scored a key goal in the opening minutes as the Brainerd Warriors beat the Sauk Rapids Storm 3-1 Monday, Sept. 9.

The rain all day made playing conditions less than ideal for both teams at Adamson Field. With a good downpour at kickoff, it seemed offense would be a struggle.

“It just makes the game sloppy,” Warrior coach Grant Gmeinder said. “It don’t know if it evens the playing field a little bit. It’s just tough to do the things you want to do.”

The Warriors were able to take a 1-0 lead thanks to Kramer’s goal with 33:56 left in the first half to settle them into a wet game.

Later in the first half, junior midfielder Taylor Larson was able to find senior forward Gabbie Smith, who put the ball in the back of the net giving Brainerd a comfortable 2-0 lead into halftime.

“I think (the first goal) was huge,” Gmeinder said. “It kind of allowed us to settle in the cold, wet environment.”

Sauk Rapids struggled to get any chances going in the first half due to the poor playing conditions of the rain. In the second half that changed as the Storm were able to put some pressure on the Brainerd defense.

Gabbie Smith
Gabbie Smith

Junior defenseman Adyson Froiland scored the lone Storm goal from 40 yards out on a free kick. The ball took a strange hop over Warriors goalie Shayla Makowski-Budrow and made the score 2-1 with 20 minutes left in the game.

Other than the fluke goal, the Warriors defense stayed strong not allowing many chances for the Storm the rest of the way.

The Warriors defense has been stingy in the early part of the season. In their four Central Lakes Conference games coming into their game against Sauk Rapids they had yet to allow a goal. The free kick goal by Froiland was the first and only their fourth goal given up on the season.

“We just mark up on our girl and stay with her so she doesn’t get open,” junior defenseman Kayla Bush said of the Warriors’ strategy on defense. “Stepping to the ball and then passing up and getting runs is what we try to do.”

The Warriors tried to answer back with a free kick of their own. It was Bush who shot a free kick from 40 yards out that hit the crossbar and trickled out.

“I did think it was going to go in,” Bush said.

The Warriors were able to put one more goal on the board when senior forward Emma Smith scored off a rebound from a shot by cousin Gabbie Smith.

Gabbie Smith added an assist to her goal making her the only Warrior player with two points on the season.

“I thought we had our moments,” Gmeinder said. “On a really wet field and cold, rainy environment I thought we brought good energy to start and did enough to win. I loved how we responded after they scored, too. They scored a weird goal off a bad skip and I thought we brought good energy to get another one.”

Sauk Rapids 0 1 -- 1
Brainerd 2 1 -- 3

First half: Brd-Josie Kramer (Gabbie Smith) 33:56, Gabbie Smith (Taylor Larson) 10:42.
Second half: SRR-Adyson Froiland 20:07; Brd-Emma Smith (Gabbie Smith) 10:13
Shots on goal: Brd-10, SRR-2
Goalkeepers: Brd-Shayla Makowski-Budrow (1 save); SRR-Maggie Fernholz (7 saves)

Warriors 3, Sauk Rapids 1

Key: Josie Kramer score an early goal in the first 10 minutes of the game

Conf: 4-0

Overall: 4-2

Next: Brainerd at Willmar 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12