BAXTER - Thank you, Emily Beltran.
That's what each of her Brainerd Warriors teammates should be telling the freshman midfielder after she blasted a left-footed slicer past St. Cloud Tech's Katelyn Wendt with less than three minutes remaining in Monday's match.
Warriors Alese Waters (left) and Tori Saxum (center) hugged Kaitlyn Anderholm after she scored the first goal in their game against St. Cloud Tech on Monday night at the Southdale Fields. The Warriors won the game 3-2. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Beltran's score broke a 2-2 tie and helped Brainerd remain perfect in the Central Lakes Conference (6-0) with its 3-2 victory.
More importantly, Beltran's goal prevented overtime for the Warriors, which played an overtime game Saturday, will play again Tuesday in Willmar and again on Thursday.
"These girls are exhausted from the long week last week," said Warrior head coach Sara Rojas. "We had Becca (Gervais) sitting out. We didn't have a ton of subs. You can't give up two goals in the second half and then go into overtime. The other team has too much momentum."
St. Cloud Tech 2
Key: Emily Beltran scored the game-winner with less then three minutes left.
Conference: Brd 6-0, Tech 2-3-1.
Overall: Brd 6-3-2, Tech 4-7-1.
Next: Brainerd at Willmar at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Adding to Beltran's special moment was the fact it was her first varsity goal and denied the Tech Tigers the comeback after falling behind 2-0 at the half.
"I was like, 'I hope I don't miss this,'" said Beltran. "This could be the game winner and I was so freaked out. But I made it so it's all good now.
"I just kicked it. It was my left foot, not my best foot, so I just tried to get it in the corner."
Tech rebounded from its uninspired first-half performance with better defense. The Tigers held Brainerd to just nine shots on net compared to the 11 Brainerd attempted in the first half.
The Tigers offense also clicked as Laura McKee scored at the 59th minute and Casey Mitchell scored on a penalty kick at the 74th minute to tie the score.
"Tech was getting to the ball a lot quicker in the second half," said Rojas. "Obviously, their coach told them to get off the sluggishness and get to. They put a little bit more pressure on us with their defense."
The Warriors dominated the opening frame with 11 quality scoring opportunities. Two found the back of the net. The first came at the 8:50 mark when senior captain Kaitlyn Anderholm found the loose ball in front of the net to open the scoring.
Kellie Barnaby, another senior captain, made it 2-0 on a penalty kick caused by a hand ball in the box.
"We played Bemidji Saturday and we outshot them by a huge amount," said Rojas. "The offense was really working good together Saturday and so they brought that same togetherness today. It created opportunities in that first half and in the second, but not as much."
With all the offensive pressure, Brainerd's defense also held Tech without a shot on net and only two for the game.
St. Cloud Tech 0 2 - 2
Brainerd 2 1 - 3
First half: Brd-Kaitlyn Anderholm (Stacy Tetreault) 8:50; Brd-Kellie Barnaby PK 23:36
Second half: Tech-Laura McKee (Nicole Eagle) 59:26; Tech-Casey Mitchell PK 74:35; Brd-Emily Beltran 77:14
Shots on goal: Brd 11 9 - 20, Tech 0 2 - 2
Goalkeepers: Brd-Cami Andersen (0 saves); Tech-Katelyn Wendt (17 saves)
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.