Pirates washed away by Green Wave in 6-0 loss
EAST GRAND FORKS — Rylee Solheim had no other choice.
East Grand Forks' striker had broken free of the Crookston defense on a breakaway, with just the ball between her and goalkeeper Reese Swanson. Solheim was yards behind. If she wanted to stop the Green Wave from scoring, she had no time to waste.
Solheim sprinted from her position and somehow caught up to the striker — just inside the penalty box.
Despite Solheim's valiant effort, the referees ruled she had made a bit too much contact going in for the tackle. The verdict: a red card on the Pirate junior, and a direct free kick and prime scoring chance for East Grand Forks.
Kara Ellis drilled it high and hard past Swanson, putting the Green Wave up 4-0 in the game's 67th minute. As Crookston tried desperately to adjust to playing without Solheim, East Grand Forks (4-0) scored twice more in the next two minutes, rolling to a 6-0 win over the Pirates on Tuesday.
"People got into a little bit of a mental frenzy," Crookston coach Sarah Reese said of Solheim's red card. "We can certainly play with this team, but we have to come in mentally prepared to do it."
Prior to the final 15 minutes, the Pirates (2-4) more or less were. Solheim was "stellar" according to Reese, constantly cutting off Green Wave breakaways, while her defensive teammate Dillynn Wallace (Jr.) stepped to the ball and won possession consistently.
"I thought we played a great first half," Reese said. "A lot of the play was in the middle third of the field. We took away time and space, we did a great job of defending the line. They liked to take the ball from left to right on the field, bring it down the side and either make a cross or take a shot from the outside. We did a good job of marking and making them work for their shots, work for their passes, work for the ball."
Still, Crookston couldn't generate consistent offense, allowing the Green Wave, who came into Tuesday having outscored opponents 18-0, to take a 2-0 lead by halftime. Reese thought the Pirates could have done a better job transitioning out of defense into counterattacking opportunities, attributing it to mental pressure.
"We were caught in a little bit of a mental headspace being in defensive mode as opposed to transitioning from defense to offense," Reese said. " ... Second half, we started to resolve that a bit."
But the Pirates' hole only grew. Ellis scored on a high, precise shot over Swanson to make it 3-0 10 minutes after halftime. Just 85 seconds after Ellis' free kick made it 4-0, Brooklyn Sayler finished off a breakaway as the Green Wave took advantage of Solheim's absence. Sayler then capped off her hat trick, and the win, moments later.
Reese was pleased that her team battled out of its funk in the final minutes after reorienting itself to playing with just 10 players. But even before that turning point, Crookston was just hanging on.
"They're a very physical team," Reese said. "They're gonna go to the balls, they're gonna take advantage. If we are not playing up to par or if we are not playing physical or we are not playing shoulder to shoulder, they're gonna take advantage of that. And that's what good teams do."
UP NEXT: Crookston is off until Monday, Sept. 21, when the Pirates have a 4 p.m. home rematch with East Grand Forks.
- 11:18: Grace Kronlund (EGF)
- 25:04: Brooklyn Sayler (EGF)
- 49:33: Kara Ellis (EGF)
- 66:30: Kara Ellis (EGF)
- 67:55: Brooklyn Sayler (EGF)
- 69:35: Brooklyn Sayler (EGF)
- Crookston: Reese Swanson 14 saves (7 first half, 7 second half)
- East Grand Forks: Kadynn Melquist 2 saves (2 second half)
The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730, Jacob Shames (405) 496-0168 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow along on Twitter @crookstonsports and @Jacob_Shames for all the latest stories and live game updates.