NEW ULM - Down by three goals late in the game, the New Ulm girls soccer team could have easily given up and let one get away against South Central Conference rival St. Peter Thursday.
But the Eagles fought back late, scoring two goals within about a minute. However, they didn't have enough time to score a tying goal, instead falling to St. Peter 3-2 at the Martin Luther College Soccer Complex.
The strong finish was encouraging for the Eagles, but the slow start is something that they obviously didn't need.
"Mentally, we won the second half," junior forward Peyton Lewis said. "I think our defense played solid. Their two goals in the second half, they caught a seam in our defense and that's really the way we're looking at it. I think we're only going to learn from this game, and the next time we play them, we're going to come right at them."
The two teams seem to always battle each other hard, no matter the record coming in. The Saints entered play with a 4-5 record while the Eagles were sitting at 8-1-1.
"We're definitely rivals," Lewis said. "We've switched wins and losses, we beat them in a final game in the summer, they beat us last year and we beat them, we're always at each other's throats. They're always a really tough team to beat and we have to give credit to where credit is due."
The Saints seemed to come out with more energy in the first half and went up quickly on a goal by Marta Springer.
New Ulm trailed 1-0 at halftime, then watched the Saints score twice more in the second half and it looked like they were going to walk away with the convincing win.
But the Eagles had other plans.
Teresa Howard put the Eagles on the board when she scored an unassisted goal in the 74th minute. Less than a minute later, Nicole Moldstad made it 3-2 when she added an unassisted goal.
For the second straight game, the Eagles got off to a slow start before finishing strong. New Ulm battled Worthington to a scoreless tie at halftime on Tuesday before scoring four goals in the second half. On Thursday, the Eagles had more first-half woes, but turned it on late.
"I think it's hard to catch our rhythm, but once we get that first one, we're so amped up and ready to go," Lewis said.
Shelby Smith had eight saves for the Eagles.
The Eagles hope to get things going a little earlier when they host Mankato Loyola at 1 p.m. Saturday.