St. Peter snapped Fairmont’s seven-game winning streak and handed the Cardinals only their second loss of the girls soccer season in a big 2-1 victory Thursday night at Johnson Field.
It was a battle for first place in the Big South Conference, with St. Peter having handed Fairmont its only loss of the season, a 1-0 opening-game Saints win Aug. 22.
From there, the Cardinals put together a streak of seven wins and out-scored opponents by a 36-4 margin.
Thursday night’s St. Peter victory put the Saints atop the conference standings with a 6-0-1 record, 6-0-2 overall. Fairmont Area dropped to 5-2 in league play, 7-2 overall.
It was also a big game in regards to Section 2A seedings, as the Saints and Cardinals will continue to battle for one of the top four spots in the Minnesota-scores.net QRF ratings. Currently, St. Peter stands in in third place, one ahead of Fairmont.
The top three Section 2A spots are currently held by Holy Family Catholic of Victoria (4-2), Mankato East (7-1) and Mankato West (5-2). (Despite the Saints’ unbeaten record, QRF ratings rely in part on overall strength of schedule.)
The Cardinals opened fast Thursday, taking advantage of their outside speed and the play of forward Joni Becker. She often out-raced Saints defenders to the left corner, putting plenty of early pressure on St. Peter goalkeeper Katie Gurrola.
Becker finally scored at the 10:33 mark off a rebound to give Fairmont a quick 1-0 lead.
The best early scoring chance for the Saints didn’t come until nearly midway through the first half, with 21:40 remaining, followed by a second near-miss two minutes later.
Becker had two more solid scoring opportunities with 17:20 still left in first-half action. But Gurrola came up with one big save, and Becker fired wide right on a second.
St. Peter’s Amelia Carlson had a golden opportunity with 9:40 remaining in the half, just missing an open net wide to the right. And the Cardinals went into halftime with the one-goal lead.
The second half belonged to the Saints and, in particular, teammates Maddie More and Emma Jones. Their speed and ball-handling skills, along with the Saints’ roster depth, wore down their Fairmont opponents.
With 26:02 remaining, More scored easily on a penalty kick, beating the Cardinals’ sophomore goalkeeper Cadee Becker. It was set up by the persistent play and ball-handling efforts of Jones.
More nearly scored again, shooting wide right with 18:45 left in the second half. And Jones broke away and put a shot on goal but was handled by the Cardinals’ Cadee Becker.
Plenty of midfield action and competing rushes continued until Jones scored in close with 9:08 remaining in the game.
Gurrola came up big in goal the rest of the way. She made a big save with 3:50 remaining. But it can be a game of inches, as a last-ditch Fairmont shot hit the cross bar above the Saints goalkeeper with just 14 seconds left and bounced away.
And the Saints had their big 2-1 conference win.The Saints have a game today (Friday) 5 p.m. at Gault Park (1901 North Sunrise Drive) versus Marshall (2-4). It’s a schedule change from Sept. 27. The JV will play at the 2121 W. Broadway Ave. field.