FAIRMONT - Fairmont Area's ball-hawking defense left St. Peter's lethal scoring punch of striker Emily Lind and midfielder Marta Springer empty-handed for 79 minutes and 40 seconds during Thursday night's soccer clash in Fairmont.
The Saints' senior high-octane combination, however, would not be denied as Lind drilled a rising liner just inside the right post with only 20 seconds remaining in regulation for a 1-0 South Central Conference victory over the hometown Cardinals at Kot Soccer Complex.
"When I told you to go get it, I didn't mean for you to wait until there was only 20 seconds left in the game," St. Peter mentor Karl Larson said jokingly in the direction of Lind, who entered the game with a team-leading 15 goals to go with three assists. "No, really, I'm very proud of the way all of you just kept plugging away tonight."
HEADS-UP PLAY — Fairmont Area’s Mackenzie Betts (5) delivers a header pass as Cardinal midfielder Brooklyn Leichtnam (3) and St. Peter’s Ella Wiebusch (2) watch during South Central Conference soccer action Thursday night at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
After a brief stoppage of time with 34 seconds showing on the scoreboard to re-insert a Cardinal player onto the field, Springer worked the right wing before spotting Lind at the right point of the box. Lind hammered the ball into the right corner of the net for the game-winner.
"She hit a perfect shot - that's all there was to it," Fairmont Area head coach Matt Nielsen said in reference to Lind, who netted a hat trick in pacing St. Peter's 5-1 victory during the two teams' first regular-season meeting on Sept. 12 in St. Peter. "That was one heckuva soccer game."
Saints' netminder Desi Krueger turned away all three of the Cardinals' first-half shots on goal, while Fairmont Area's Jess Koskovich matched her counterpart by denying all seven of St. Peter's shots to create a scoreless gridlock at halftime.
In addition to Koskovich's sure-handed netminding, Fairmont Area defenders Nicole Lenort, Talitha Burtis, Ashten Atzenhoefer, Hailey Wolter and Ciera Drevlow kept Lind and Springer from getting more direct looks at the net by closing down their approach angles consistently.
In fact, Lenort used her lateral quickness and shoetip to redirect Springer's hard rush along the left wing just 8 minutes into the first half.
Koskovich then stone-walled Springer's drive through the heart of the field 10 minutes later before Burtis cleared a pinballing crossing pass from Lind out of the congestion in front of the Cardinals' net near the 12-minute mark.
Atzenhoefer displayed her mettle by blocking a blast off the foot of Lind on an endline drive only 7 minutes into the second half.
Alex Christianson, who made five saves in relief of Koskovich between the pipes during the second half, later utilized a two-armed block on Lind's blast from the left point to keep the game scoreless with 17 minutes to go.
Lind, however, stunned the crowd by converting Springer's team-leading ninth assist of the season and hammering home the game-winner during the waning seconds of regulation.
Krueger totaled six saves on the game to earn the shutout for the Saints.
Fairmont Area (6-5-2, 3-3-2 SCC) hosts Worthington at 7 p.m. Monday in Game 2 of the Cardinals' Tailgate varsity doubleheader at Kot Soccer Complex.
St. Peter (8-3-1, 5-1-1) travels to Minneapolis Southwest on Tuesday night.
St. Peter 0-1-1
SP - Emily Lind (Marta Springer), 0:20.
Shots on goal: St. Peter 7-6-13; Fairmont Area 3-3-6.
Saves: Desi Krueger (SP) 3-3-6; Jess Koskovich (FA) 7-x-7; Alex Christianson (FA) x-5-5.
St. Peter edged Fairmont Area, 3-2, during junior varsity action Thursday in Fairmont.
Myah Lytle produced the Cardinals' first goal off a double-assist from Emily Kloeckner and Kelsy Junkermeier.
Taylor Wolf then tallied Fairmont Area's second goal off a double-assist from Lytle and Kloeckner.
Netminder Haley Burmeister made five saves for the Cardinals, who generated nine shots on goal.
Maiya Dietz scored the game's only goal off a Brooke Hunwardsen assist to steer Fairmont Area to a 1-0 victory over St. Peter during C-squad action Thursday.
Goalkeeper Taylor Eicholz made eight saves to earn the shutout for the Cardinals, who took 12 shots on goal.