Kenze Epema's first goal of the season tied the game before halftime, but the Johnnies broke through for three in the second half.

    In mighty gusts of wind, the Pirates welcomed the St. John’s Prep Johnnies for Crookston’s home-opener. The Pirates scored their first goal of the season in sophomore Kenze Epema, but a strong second-half offense by the Johnnies resulted in a 4-1 loss for Crookston (0-2).

    “We had strong winds out here and we tried to use them in the first half to create some opportunities which I definitely think it did,” Head Coach Sarah Reese said. “The wind was definitely a factor, but not the only factor.”

    The Johnnies struck first with a goal eight minutes into the game with seventh grader Reese Swanson in the net for Crookston.

    With time winding down in the first half, the Pirates moved the ball downfield and capped off the surge with a goal by Epema that sailed over the goalkeeper’s hands with three minutes to play in half number one. Junior Brinna Egeland earned credit for the assist.

    “Kenze was working her butt off and was rewarded for that,” Reese said.” She was very aggressive, was where she needed to be at the right time at the right place and she worked hard. Throughout the whole game, there were several opportunities that we were one step away and so she worked hard and got the goal.”

    The two teams remained tied heading into the half with each goalie recording three saves.

    For the second half, Reese made a change in the net and put in Kylee Meier. The junior stopped five balls in her time as keeper.

    “Both [Reese] and Kylee are excellent field players,” Reese said. “Kylee just has that natural ability in the net and so we wanted to give Reese an opportunity and we decided to split the time.”

    St. John’s controlled the ball out of the gate and possessed a chance to score seven minutes in, but the ball sailed over the cross bar, possibly assisted by the wind. Three and a half minutes later, the Johnnies found the back of the net on a corner kick.

    Halfway through the second half, St. John’s struck again to double their lead and followed up with their third goal of the frame with just under 10 minutes to play.

    The Pirates brought the ball into the Johnnies territory a few times, but ultimately, could not inch any closer.

    “Their goal was to work hard for the whole 80 minutes and I think that they did that,” Reese said. “I think in the first half, we had our offense and defense playing together. In the second half, we were going against the wind and it was pretty strong. I felt like we kept working at it. We were just unlucky on our goals.”

    After dropping their first two games of the season, Crookston will earn a week off before their next match against Detroit Lakes at home on Thursday, September 6. Start time is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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