KoMets come up short in section championship
With any season that comes to an end, there happens to be a lot of immediate reflection to digest what happened during the course of the year. Sometimes, that process can start as soon as the final whistle is blown to think how much a team has grown or what they could have done to keep their season alive.
The Kasson-Mantorville girls soccer team had that feeling moments after their 2-1 defeat to Rochester Lourdes in the Section 1A championship game on October 23. As head coach Chris Soderberg wrapped things up on the 2017 season, he was asked by assistant coach Tony Gierok if he had expected the KoMets to be in the section championship a month ago.
“I told him no,” Soderberg said. “We were in the middle of a 2-8 season trying to figure things out. But I added that two months ago, I did think we could be in this game and I knew we could get there.”
Soderberg’s KoMets turned it around in that final stretch winning eight of their final nine games to put them in position to make a trip to the state tournament. In order to do that, the top-seeded Eagles stood in their way in what was a tightly contested game.
The KoMets and Eagles grinded through the first half with neither team able to find the back of the net until midway through the half. With Lourdes playing tremendous defense that limited K-M to a couple shots on goal, they were able to take advantage and go into the half with a 1-0 lead.
With the Eagles being the aggressor in the second half, they would dump the ball on net and goalkeeper Laken Bartel couldn’t corral it as it went out of bounds to set up a corner kick. After the ball ricocheted off the far post and in, the KoMets were in desperation mode to climb out of the 2-0 hole.
“We were a little overmatched with their speed and skill,” Soderberg admitted. “But our girls fought hard all game long.”
Part of the process to turn things up a notch offensively was to bring Lexie Wooden up from her center defense position on free kicks. The move would pay off later in the half when Gwen Dole launched a corner kick that would lead to a header by Worden to make it a 2-1 game.
“We brought her up because of her ability to go after the ball and finish,” Soderberg said. “She was so close all season long and it was her third goal, but her first with her head. That fired us up.”
With the KoMets rejuvenated, they put pressure on the Eagles to tie the game even as an apparent game-clincher was deemed to ring off the post in the final minute. With both teams stopped momentarily, Arie Delzer darted up field to give K-M one last shot. Eventually Chella Gonzalez would break through the Lourdes defense for a final opportunity, but was stopped as the KoMets’ season would come to a close.
Despite the defeat, the KoMets had plenty to hold their heads up for as they accomplished some of their goals that they had set at the beginning of the season. Back in the fall, Soderberg said that 10 wins would be a great season for his team and the KoMets wound up with a 10-10 record. He also noted the development and bonding his team had throughout the year turning a 2-8 squad into a team that needed one more victory to advance to the state tournament.
“That’s all you can ask for,” Soderberg said. “Being able to play your best soccer at the end of the year and have an opportunity with seconds to go to extend the section championship game. It was quite a season.”