FAIRMONT - Fairmont Area's Brooklyn and Sydney Leichtnam are not twins, but the soccer siblings displayed that uncanny sense of knowing each other's location on the field at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.
Brooklyn Leichtnam delivered the initial blast that Mankato Loyola goalkeeper Kit Krmpotich deflected only to watch as Sydney Leichtnam hammered home the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal only 10 minutes into the second 40-minute half.
Forward Riann Dietz's kickback goal off a Sierra Schultz assist, the Leichtnam-from-Leichtnam score, and stellar netminding by Alex Christianson and Jess Koskovich propelled the Cardinals to a 2-1 South Central Conference victory over the visiting Crusaders on Tuesday night.
SIDELINE SAVE — Fairmont Area forward Lexi Johnson (19) saves the soccer ball from going out-of-bounds during South Central Conference action Tuesday night at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Riann Dietz (17) and Ashten Atzenhoefer (9), along with the Crusaders’ Jenna Helget (far left) and Katerina Vetter (far right), pursue the play. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"Our conditioning really paid dividends tonight," said Fairmont Area mentor Matt Nielsen. "I thought our players definitely used their speed to the outside to put a lot of pressure on them (Crusaders) during the second half."
After getting outshot by a 9-6 margin during the opening segment, the Cardinals displayed their stamina by posting a 6-4 edge in actual shots on goal during the final 40 minutes. Fairmont Area also generated eight near-shots compared to only three by Loyola during the second half.
Forward Natalie Shimon nearly cashed in Krmpotich's tip save off Lexi Johnson's left-wing blast during the opening minute of the second segment, but just missed by inches wide left.
Brooklyn Leichtnam then maneuvered her way through traffic near the top of the box to unleash a liner at Krmpotich that she blocked with both gloves. Sydney Leichtnam alertly anticipated the carom and pounded home the follow shot from the right doorstep at the 30:01 juncture for a 2-1 edge.
Schultz then utilized her Mercurial speed to nearly extend Fairmont Area's lead to 3-1 just seven minutes later. Schultz drove the right wing, weaved through defenders to the middle and rattled a laser off the crossbar.
Midfielder Hayley Jones then delivered a perfect curled lead pass to Schultz, who used a cross-over move to reach the point before releasing a sizzling liner just wide of the left post.
Koskovich later made the most important of her four saves on the game, corraling Loyola forward Emily Gaspar's 15-yard blast from the left point with 8:35 remaining in regulation.
Ironically, Gaspar delivered the Crusaders' only goal of the contest via a penalty kick at the 15:45 juncture of the opening half. The Cardinals were whistled for an inadvertent handball inside the keeper's box and Gaspar knocked home the equalizer.
Earlier in the first half, Schultz's rush down the middle and rising liner was batted down by Krumpotich. Dietz, however, gauged the deflection and drilled a quick-reflex follow shot from the right doorstep into the left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead at the 21:27 mark of the first half.
Christianson delivered seven first-half saves for the Cardinals, while Krmpotich tallied 10 stops for the Crusaders.
Fairmont Area (6-4-2, 3-2-2 SCC) plays host to St. Peter at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.
Mankato Loyola (1-8-1, 0-5) travels to the Martin Luther College fields in New Ulm on Thursday to square off against New Ulm.
FA - Riann Dietz (Sierra Schultz), 21:27.
ML - Emily Gaspar penalty kick, 15:45.
FA - Sydney Leichtnam (Brooklyn Leichtnam), 30:01.
Shots on goal: Fairmont Area 6-6-12; Mankato Loyola 9-4-13.
Saves: Alex Christianson (FA) 8-x-8, Jess Koskovich (FA) x-4-4; Kit Krmpotich (ML) 5-5-10.
Mankato Loyola defeated Fairmont Area, 4-1, during C-squad action Tuesday in Fairmont.
Lexi Lunn scored the Cardinals' only goal off of Brooke Hunwardsen's free kick. Fairmont Area produced 11 shots on goal, while Loyola tallied 11.
Fairmont Area 2, Mankato Loyola 0 - Brock Johnson and Evan Ward each produced goals, while goalkeeper Trason Arens made 13 saves to engineer the Cardinals' 2-0 victory over the Crusaders during South Central Conference action Tuesday in Mankato.
Johnson staked Fairmont Area to an early 1-0 edge by hammering home a shot off of Ben Timmerman's crossing pass at the 9:08 mark of the opening half.
Ward then capped the game's scoring via a second-half goal. Ryan Busche fired the inbound throw to Ward, who made two touches before nailing the net-finding blast at the 15:03 juncture.
Arens turned away seven first-half shots and six more in the second to earn the shutout. Loyola's Patrick Cullen stopped eight of Fairmont Area's 10 shots on goal.
Fairmont Area (3-11, 2-6 SCC) plays host to Worthington at 5 p.m. Monday at Kot Soccer Complex.