HINCKLEY – Soccer teams don't get style points for how they get the ball into the net.
If they did, Indian Creek's second tally late in the first half Thursday against rival Hinckley-Big Rock most certainly would have qualified.
Timberwolves sophomore Madison Russell's hustle was rewarded in the form of the game-winning goal for Indian Creek in a 2-1 victory over the Royals.
“I saw that Madison Spooner had the ball on the other side, so I just started running up field,” said Russell, whose goal came with 5 minutes and 39 seconds on the first-half clock. “She had a couple of defenders on her and I couldn't tell if she had a good enough look to shoot. We work on running through the play and never giving up on it every day in practice, so when she crossed the ball in and it came right to me, I was right there to tap it in.”
Indian Creek (10-1) had grabbed a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the match when a spinning deflection of a clearing attempt by H-BR led to an own goal.
“All we talked about at halftime was that in the previous three halves that we have played them, it looked like we got outworked, outhustled and outplayed in all of them,” H-BR coach Paul Taeuber said. “I questioned their desire and told them that they have to get out there and get after it. It's a hard thing to do, go hard all the time, but that's what you have to do. We dominated the second half because of that, it was nice.”
Hinckley-Big Rock (4-6-1) played a strong second half, outshooting the Timberwolves 13-1. Indian Creek sophomore goalkeeper Josie Diehl made numerous stops and clears in the second half. She ended the match with seven saves.
“You just always have to be ready no matter the situation,” said Diehl, who only had to handle the ball a few times in the first half. “I really felt I was on tonight, which was good. It's nice to get the win, we were just trying to play it like every other game. It worked out good.”
H-BR finally broke the shutout with 4:31 left in the match when senior Andrea Binkley found the ball at her feet after a mad scramble and was able to get off a solid strike that deflected off of Diehl's hands and into the net. The Royals had one good chance to tie the score from there, but a long shot with just more than a minute to play narrowly missed the top right corner of the cage.
“I think the wind had a little to do with it, [H-BR] adjusted to the wet field, but the biggest factor was they came out with a huge amount of intensity,” Indian Creek coach Luke Anderson said. “We had a hard time getting our goal kicks out of the box and that is something we having been working on. We also didn't win many 50-50 balls in the second half. Offensively, we just didn't put as many passes together as I would have liked."