Crookston can't capitalize in 2-0 loss to Hillcrest Lutheran
In each of its five previous losses, Crookston girls' soccer had been outshot by its opponent.
Thursday was different.
Against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, the Pirates had opportunity after opportunity, especially in the first half. A deflected cross at close-range by Kenzie Epema went straight into the hands of the goalkeeper. A long shot by Joslynn Leach did too. Crookston put eight shots on goal in the first 40 minutes, all in all.
But Emma Marfell was on the receiving end of all of them for the Comets, and when Hillcrest got its own opportunities, it didn't miss. It scored on a rebound off the post in the 17th minute and once more in the 51st minute, beating Crookston, 2-0, on Thursday to spoil the Pirates' final regular season home game.
"We had lots of opportunities to put the ball in the net, and unfortunately we were not able to capitalize on those opportunities," said Crookston coach Sarah Reese. " ... We gotta be able to find the net."
It wasn't for lack of chances. The Pirates (2-6) moved the ball and put pressure on Hillcrest with long balls and runs down the wing, but the Comets cleared seemingly everything that came into the middle. When Crookston did get shots on goal, they weren't taken with enough power or precision to challenge Marfell.
"I always say that goalscoring is about quantity and quality," Reese said. "I think we had the quantity, but I don't think we had the quality."
In Reese's view, much of that came down to a lack of energy from the Pirates, relative to their previous game. On Monday, they battled East Grand Forks to a 1-1 tie through 63 minutes before falling, 4-1, but did the "little things": taking away passing lanes, winning 50-50 balls, playing shoulder-to-shoulder.
"We collectively didn't have as much energy as I think we all would have hoped for," Reese said. "Meaning, if we feel we're in a slump, or if we feel like we aren't playing collectively, that ability to rise above that. For whatever reason, our energy was a little down. ... All of the little things, we need to do that every game. Not just when we're playing East Grand Forks, we have to do that against every team, every day."
Instead, the Comets (4-2) put the game to bed after their second goal, which came on a counterattack on which the Pirates were caught slightly out of position. Crookston registered only one shot on goal in the second half.
After the game was over, the Pirates huddled together as a team. They talked about the need to bring energy. To play together. They reflected on their individual contributions to the team, and how they all add up into one whole.
All of that, in Reese's view, determines the ability to capitalize.
"We all have to think about what we're gonna contribute to bringing energy, and we also have to think about our contribution to the team," Reese said. "What do we do when we have the ball, what do we do when we don't have the ball, instead of having our energy up and energy down. ... We wanna be more consistent that way."
UP NEXT: The Pirates will be on the road Monday, Sept. 28 when they take on Pelican Rapids (2-4). Crookston beat the Vikings, 5-1, in Crookston on Sept. 8.
NOTES: Thursday's game was, in all likelihood, the final home game for the Pirates' three seniors: Epema, Leach and Danielle Haake. Reese praised not only their contributions throughout their careers, but their positive attitude in spite of an abbreviated, at times uncertain final season.
"We certainly appreciate their leadership and them being great role models," Reese said. "They all bring something a little different to the team, on and off the field, so we're so happy for their contributions to our team not just today but every day.
"Every day we're happy that we get to practice, and every day we're happy to have that experience. We're just trying to live in the moment and trying to give the seniors what is the closest thing to a normal soccer season that they can have."
In addition, Thursday's game was also Family Day. Reese made sure to thank Pirate parents and families for their support.
- 16:15: Julianna Claney (Hillcrest) assist Alivia Holmquist
- 50:45: Taylor Kiss (Hillcrest)
- Crookston: Reese Swanson 7 saves (2 first half, 5 second)
- Hillcrest Lutheran: Emma Marfell 9 saves (8 first half, 1 second)
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