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Girls Soccer: Wingers show life in Lake City Invitational

Red Wing's Maddie Hardyman (15) fights off Winona's Sarah Ortega during Saturday's Lake City Invitational championship match at Bill Kieffer Field. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

LAKE CITY – Coming into Saturday’s Lake City Invitational with a winless record, the Red Wing girls soccer team was not at a loss for confidence prior to their first game.

After winning last year’s Lake City Invite, the Wingers had every intention of repeating as champions, something that impressed first-year co-coaches Paul McNamee and David Thurston.

“They were talking from the get-go (Saturday) morning, when they got on the bus,” McNamee said. “It was like, ‘OK then, lets go win a tournament.’

That confidence was on full display for Red Wing as they easily dispatched of Lake City in the tournament opener, 4-0, to get the team’s first win of the season.

“We found out that we could score goals in regulation today, which we haven’t done in a while,” McNamee said. “That first win reaffirmed that confidence like, ‘We have every right to feel like we’re playing well.’”

With a pair of goals from Maddie Hardyman, as well as scores from Serena Scanlon and Clara Grider, the Wingers scored their first goals in regulation since a 2-2 tie with Winona Cotter on Sept. 3.

“Everyone was passing perfectly, and it was so good to see everyone working together,” Hardyman said. “You could see everyone was mentally and physically connected.”

Riding that wave of momentum, Red Wing looked to take the tournament championship against Winona. And if they needed any more motivation, the Wingers were going up against former head coach Dusty Beckman, who left Red Wing to coach his hometown Winhawks.

“Winona’s a rival we wanted to beat,” Hardyman said.  “After the win, everyone was pumped, and I wish we could have played again right away.”

But ultimately, a quick pair of goals midway through the first half gave Winona all the cushion it needed in a 5-0 victory.

Though he was satisfied with the win, Beckman admitted that beating a team he coached for two seasons was a bittersweet appearance.

“There’s always mixed emotions when you’re going into a game like this where you used to coach the team,” Beckman said. “It was the same thing last year in this tournament when we faced Winona who I used to coach (as an assistant).

“Red Wing came out great, they held up with us great in the first 15, 20 minutes. … they played great soccer that whole first half.”

Luckily, he had some help from his family. After Amber Carly put in Winona’s first goal in the 21st minute, Dusty’s sister, Autumn, put in another goal over a minute later to put the Winhawks up 2-0.

Autumn would go on to tally Winona’s final four goals to help her big brother secure the win.

“She hasn’t been doing a lot of goal scoring until that last few games,” Beckman said of his sister. “We changed our formation … I gave Autumn more freedom by being the lone attacking center mid, so that kind of helped with that momentum shift. It helps having smart players like Autumn and Carly that know when to press and when to hold back”

While there was a little disappointment on Red Wing’s end for not winning the tournament, having the ability to relish in a victory was a huge relief. And after finally getting a ‘W’ in the standings, the Winger coaches are elated to have something to build off of after taking their lumps all season.

“It makes us feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” McNamee said. “All the things we’re working towards, we’re getting there.

Red Wing (1-10-2) closes out the regular season this week, with a road game at New Prague Tuesday, followed by a home contest against Chanhassen Thursday.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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