Members of the Rogers girls’ soccer team walked off the field on Sep. 22 distraught after losing 2-1 to St. Michael-Albertville in a well fought battle between two Mississippi 8 teams.
The Royals record stood at 5-5 after the loss, a .500 record after a state tournament appearance just one year ago. Four of the five losses came by just one goal, something had to give.
“Our team never doubted what we could do this year,” Claire Swan said. “We’re all glad we were able to show that we knew we could do.”
After the loss to the Knights, the Royals started a string of dominant performances on both sides of the ball. The offense scored 12 goals over the next four games and Cassidy Lehrke posted four straight shutouts. The team jumped to a 9-5 record before a tie against St. Francis on Oct. 4 ended the win streak, but kept the unbeaten streak alive.
“One goal we had this year was to peak at the right moment and I believe we are doing that,” Swan said. “We have been working on improving day by day this entire season and we aren’t quite at our full potential yet.”
The Royals ended the regular season on Oct. 6 with a shortened 6-2 game against North Branch. Coach Aaron Lindquist started a lineup of primarily seniors for senior night and the class of 2017 made an immediate impact on the last regular season game.
One of those seniors was Megan Moylan, playing in just her eighth varsity game of the year. Just five minutes into the game, she sailed the wet ball over the Vikings’ goalie, and into the net. Two minutes later, it was Moylan again; scoring her second goal of the season with 33:14 left in the first half.
“I think the reason for our success lately is because the entire team is playing better,” Swan said. “We have all been playing well as individuals, as well as the team as a whole.”
North Branch tied the game with 22:09 left in the first half and the game looked destined to reach the halftime buzzer at a draw. That was before Swan got her feet on the ball with 1:20 left in the half, putting a swift move on the Vikings’ goalie and hitting the back of the net, giving the Royals a one-goal lead.
As the rain continued to fall into the second half, the Royals continued to rack up goals. Swan scored her second, with Felicia Smith and Cailey Henderson adding goals as well. Once the score reached 6-2, both coaches decided to let their players out of the freezing temperatures and frigid rain and ended the game.
“One thing we always say is to never be satisfied,” Swan said. “I think this has helped us continue to improve through the entire year.”
The Royals ended the season with a 10-5-1 record, including 7-1-1 in the M8 conference. The Knights defeated the St. Francis Saints 3-0 on Oct. 6 (also in a rain shortened game), putting them atop of the conference standings with an 8-0-1 record. Both teams are in section 8AA where coaches will seed on Oct. 10. Quarterfinal match-ups begin on Oct. 13.
“We’re more than ready to head into sections and keep on improving,” Swan said.