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Eagles lose heartbreaker

October 12, 2012
Jeremy Behnke - Journal Sports Editor , The Journal

NEW ULM - Earlier this season, in the fourth game of the season for New Ulm, New Prague handed New Ulm its first loss of the girls soccer season with a 1-0 victory over the Eagles.

On Thursday, the Trojans also handed the Eagles their last loss of the season, winning a 0-0, 3-2 shootout at the Martin Luther College soccer fields.

The loss knocks the second-seeded Eagles out of the Section 2A playoffs and ends the season for New Ulm at 13-4-1. It's also the second time that the Eagles have lost a home playoff game in a shootout in three years.

"Both teams were real equal at controlling the ball," New Ulm coach Jonathan Johnson said. "I think in the first half, we had an edge as far as momentum and it kind of went back and forth. The girls played their hearts out, they left it all out on the field and its unfortunate that it has to come down to this kind of thing."

New Prague led New Ulm 3-2 in the shootout and the Eagles had one last chance to tie the game. Martha Balge's shot was tipped by New Prague goalkeeper Ally Kubes and the shot hit the crossbar. The Trojans immediately went into celebration mode and rushed the field, but the celebration had to be delayed as Kubes was called for crossing the line and Balge was awarded another shot.

However, Balge was unable to make good on that shot as the ball went right into Kubes' arms.

The shootout started with New Prague's Mikaela Algren scoring past New Ulm keeper Shelby Smith. New Ulm responded with a goal by Nicole Moldstad and the Eagles had a big chance to grab some momentum after New Prague's Sophie Puente fired a shot that went over the net.

However, Monica Illikman was unable to convert on her scoring chance to keep the shootout tied at 1-1.

Smith then knocked down Michaela Edmond's shot, but Kylie Walterman's shot also was stopped. New Prague went up 2-1 after Katie Morris scored, but New Ulm's Peyton Lewis tied it up again when she went right with her kick.

Ali Jo Hoffman scored the game-winner for the Trojans after she went to the right and got it past Smith.

The teams went the entire 80 minutes of regulation without scoring, although New Ulm had some chances that went unanswered. Lewis had New Ulm's first scoring chance in the ninth minute, but her shot was handled by Kubes.

With 12 minutes left in the first half, Illikman had a scoring chance but she misfired on the shot.

The Eagles had another chance to score in the second half, but Illikman's shot in front of the net went wide left. Lewis later missed a shot from the right side with 2:50 left in the game.

Despite losing to the Trojans early in the season, Johnson didn't change his gameplan much from the first time they played.

"We didn't change a lot in our style of play," Johnson said. "We picked up the intensity a lot and we were getting a lot of great passing to keep it close and things were working really well, we just weren't able to get it in their net."

New Ulm had 19 shots on goal and Smith made five saves for the Eagles.

The Eagles graduate five seniors from this year's squad, including Smith, Walterman, Illikman, Abby Koelpin and Carly Manderfeld.

"I think the seniors that we have are some of the best players that I've coached,"?Johnson said.



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