NEW ULM - Despite going against the wind for the first half, the New Ulm girls soccer team wanted to establish some early dominance by grabbing a lead and then eventually putting Hutchinson away in the second half.
They managed to do both.
New Ulm got a late goal from Nicole Moldstad with 12:12 remaining in the first half, then another goal from Monica Illikman to take a 2-0 halftime lead. The Eagles added three more scores in the second half en route to a 5-1, Section 2A playoff win at Martin Luther College.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Bridget Brown (20) fights with Hutchinson defender Laura Weikle (14) for a loose ball during the first half of the Eagles’ playoff win Monday at Martin Luther College in New Ulm.
While the first two goals came later in the first half, the Eagles did have a sense of relief with the lead at the break.
"It was a big relief," New Ulm's Martha Balge said. "It gave us the motivation and the momentum to keep the scoring up."
While the offense did a good job of creating scoring opportunities even against the wind, the defense limited the Tigers' scoring chances all game. It was a total team effort that helped the No. 2 seeded Eagles (13-3-1) advance to the second round, where they will host New Prague at 4:30 p.m. at the MLC Soccer Complex. New Prague defeated New Ulm 1-0 early in the season in New Prague.
"We really kept believing in our abilities, our skills," New Ulm midfielder Abby Koelpin said. "We know that we're a talented team and we know that even with the wind and some other factors that we had, we could keep plugging away and eventually put in a nice number of goals."
Balge definitely played a big part in the win. She scored the last two goals for the Eagles, one unassisted and the second on a pass from Illikman. Peyton Lewis netted New Ulm's third goal with 38:22 left in the game on an assist from Kylie Walterman.
Although Illikman did get the assist on the second goal, Balge said that Illikman had a hand, or foot rather, in both of the goals she scored.
"Both of my goals were amazing passes from Monica Illikman," Balge said.?"All I did was just tap them in, that was basically all I had to do."
The Eagles were the more dominant team on both offense and defense, as the score and the shots on goal totals indicate. New Ulm had 35 shots on goal and New Ulm goalkeeper Shelby Smith stopped eight Hutchinson shots.
Hutchinson managed to end New Ulm's chance for a shutout after the Tigers scored a goal from Mariah Mraz with just 35 seconds remaining in the game.
Because MLC has home soccer games on Thursday, the Eagles will not play on MLC's main field. Instead they will play on the side field they have been playing on for the majority of their home games.