RED WING — Heading into Thursday's game against Austin, Red Wing was not only unbeaten but had yet to score a goal. The Wingers weren't necessarily playing bad soccer — ball movement, team effort and scoring opportunities were there — they just weren't converting any of the positives into goals on the scoreboard.
That all changed Thursday against Austin as the Wingers flipped the situation, going from the team being shut out to the team shutting an opponent out. When the final whistle blew, Red Wing had a 3-0 win to show for it and the ball movement, team effort and scoring opportunities were all present once again.
It wasn't a given that Red Wing was going to break its scoring drought, however. At the start of the second half, the score was knotted up, 0-0.
"I thought in the first half we were doing everything we needed to do, we just couldn’t put it in the net," said Red Wing sophomore forward Lillie Sonju. "In the second half we finally pulled ourselves together and did what we had to do to win the game."
Cadence Thorson started the second-half scoring, followed by goals from Sammi Chandler and Sonju.
"I think for us, the biggest thing was we saw pieces of successful moments in the first two games, and we really just wanted to put it together," Red Wing head girls' soccer coach Taylor Becker said. "We’ve been playing some really good balls in and good ball movement has been there. They just wanted to make sure they rewarded ourselves for the work they’ve been doing."
A win to model the season after
With eight games remaining on the schedule the Wingers will certainly attempt to emulate the successes against Austin. To do so, Red Wing will continue to need the ball control it displayed for nearly the entire game against the Packers.
Midfielders Sydney Rahn and Kayla Radtke were a constant presence against Austin by consistently facilitating the attack. On the back line, Lauren Radtke, Katie Beaulieu, Ellie Guse and Ella Ponto rarely let an opposing attacker get behind them.
The common theme between the midfield and defense? The Wingers are mostly relying on juniors and seniors with years of experience to lead the team.
"We return a good chunk of our varsity group from last year," Becker said. "Our back line is really experienced. We return most of our scoring. We don’t have anybody younger than 10th grade and usually there are a lot of younger players there."
Becker said her hope is to press more from the back line since there is so much returning experience. She wants her defense to be up as far as possible when they are able — putting pressure on opponents to give up possession of the ball. From there, the Wingers will utilize their athleticism to quickly get on loose balls and push them up field for the attackers.
Although the final results in Red Wing's first three games have varied, Becker's tactics have stayed true to her stated core values this season. That figures to stay the same as Red Wing continues on with its all-Big Nine schedule.
"We don’t want to treat anybody different. Everyone should be approached the same," Becker said. "We have had pretty good success in certain moments with all of these Big 9 teams, so it’s really just stringing that together and having that mindset."
Trip to Winona ends in loss
The Wingers traveled to Winona on Tuesday for their first road game of the season, losing 2-0.
Winona's two goals were scored in the opening minutes of each half putting the Wingers on their heels straight from the start. Red Wing's goalkeeper Tori Senty finished with nine saves. Her counterpart — Mikayla Corcoran stopped all eight of Red Wing's shots on goal.
"It didn’t feel like we ever really got into a groove, and we put ourselves into a hole early trying to catch up with the turf pace," Red Wing girls' soccer head coach Taylor Becker said. "We were happy with moments of our game in transition — Lillie Sonju had a particularly strong night as far as her distribution and finding opportunities for us that we couldn’t quite connect finishes on. "
- 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 at Faribault
- 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12 at Albert Lea
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15 vs. Rochester John Marshall
- 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18 at Mankato East
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22 vs. Northfield
- 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 at Rochester Century
- 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29 vs. Rochester Mayo
- 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2 at Owatonna