Cardinals blank Eagles, 2-0

FAIRMONT – Stone-wall defense, precision passing and a pair of powerful kicks propelled the Fairmont Area girls soccer lineup to a key South Central Conference shutout on Saturday.

Goalie Jess Koskovich recorded seven saves, while teammates Sierra Schrader and Lexi Johnson hammered home second-half goals to engineer the Cardinals’ 2-0 triumph over the New Ulm Eagles at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.

“Our passing looked good today, and I thought we did a nice job of controlling the action from box-to-box,” said Fairmont Area mentor Matt Nielsen. “Defensively, Jess did what we asked of her and she gave us 80 minutes of shutout soccer.”

Indeed. Koskovich and opposing netminder Claire Boeder kept the game scoreless through the initial 40 minutes by turning away two and three shots on goal, respectively.

Fairmont Area midfielders Brooklyn Leichtnam and Hayley Jones, along with defender Mackenzie Betts, utilized their patient passing skills to dictate a deliberate tempo without allowing New Ulm’s high-scoring midfielder Nicole Moldstad and her Eagle teammates to get good looks at the net.

In fact, the hometown Cardinals managed to merit eight of their 10 corner kicks during the first half, with the Eagles’ Hannah Paustian and Moldstad clogging up the space near the net in denying back-to-back curling kicks from Lexi Johnson and Sierra Schultz at the midway juncture.

After 72 shutout minutes, a hobbling Schrader unleashed a 25-yard blast from the point to find the New Ulm net and spoil Boeder’s shutout bid. Schrader shook off a bit of incidental contact in tracking down the ball, turned and drilled home the SCC clash’s first point for a 1-0 lead with 8 minutes left.

Lexi Johnson then delivered the Cardinals’ key insurance goal on a hard-struck one-timer from the left wing at the 5:22 mark. Marisa Nelson dribbled near the left sideline before lofting a perfect pass to Johnson, who took the ball in mid-air and blasted home a left-footed laser into the net.

New Ulm officially outshot Fairmont Area by a narrow 7-6 margin, with both teams tallying 10 shots near goal on the day. The Cardinals, however, did hold a 10-7 edge in corner kicks.

Fairmont Area (3-1, 2-0 SCC) travels to New Prague today, while New Ulm (1-4, 0-3) hits the road to Mankato Loyola on Tuesday.

Taylor Wolf generated a pair of goals to power Fairmont Area to a 3-0 triumph over New Ulm during junior varsity action Saturday.

Wolf netted her first goal of the contest via an assist from Claire Gerhardt just 2:31 into the opening half.

Myah Lytle doubled the Cardinals’ edge to 2-0 by finding the net off of a Brooke Lemon assist at the 22:10 juncture of the first segment.

Wolf then capped the home team’s scoring by kicking home a goal off an assist from Emily Kloeckner at the 74:40 mark.

Goalie Haley Burmeister recorded five saves to earn the shutout for the Cardinals, who unleashed 23 shots on goal.

The Fairmont Area junior varsity (1-0-2) travels to New Prague today.