Playing with the will to win, Princeton girls soccer posted victories in its first two playoff matches.
The Tigers opened the playoffs with a 3-1 home win over No. 11 North Branch Oct. 10. Senior Brittany Beckman made a big impact in her return from an ACL injury, scoring 3:30 into the match on a free kick in her first action of the season for a 1-0 Tiger lead.
Princeton kept good pressure on the Vikings over the next stretch of the half. Hannah Sandin’s acrobatic long throw-ins led to near goals by Taylor Laabs, Raegan Anderson and Bridget Walter. Laabs’ deft passing up the right sideline also helped keep the ball in the Vikings’ end.
Down the last nine minutes of the half, however, North Branch pushed the ball hard up the left side and had two shots go over the crossbar. The half ended with Beckman sending the ball to Jordan Suter who got it to Anderson, and her rolling shot went off the left post.
Beckman went on to score two second-half goals for the hat trick against the Vikings. A Sandin throw-in set up the second goal. The Tigers’ third goal came when Alanna Mattson drove hard and was taken down in the box, then Beckman buried the penalty kick.
• On Saturday, the Tigers headed east to take on No. 3 seed Chisago Lakes and came home with a hard-fought 1-0 win on the Wildcats’ turf. Maggie Peterson scored the lone goal on an extra-effort run from a very nice ball from Walter.
“We talked about how we needed a complete game with extra efforts on every play. We also talked about how smart decisions late in the game could be the difference for us. And it proved to be,” said Tiger Coach Heidi Finstad. “Chisago only lost two games all year on their turf, so we knew it would be difficult to knock them off. I was happy that we were able to do it without overtime.”
Coach Finstad added, “I thought our girls handled the pace of the turf very well for only having been on it twice. (Keeper) April Schmidt made a tremendous save in the final moments to keep the game locked at 1-0.”
Denfeld 1. Princeton 0
On a misty, chilly night in Duluth Oct. 15, the Hunters ended the Tigers’ playoff run with a 1-0 win on the Duluth Public Stadium turf. The No. 2 seed Hunters will take on No. 1 Hermantown in the Oct. 17 finals.