Girls soccer: Agates primed for playoff run
Two Harbors defensive play has been the strength of the team for several years, but this year's Agate squad has an offense to match.
With less than a week to go until the Section 7A tournament, the Agates have clinched a winning season for the first time in more than a decade.
What's more, they will host a playoff game Thursday, Oct. 11, at Halstead Field in Two Harbors for the first time in several years.
Two years ago, Two Harbors managed just four wins — their only four games with more than one goal — and were shut out seven times. Last season, they managed six wins, but were also shut out an additional six times.
Through 15 games in 2018, however, the Agates have been shut out just once and are 10-3-2, with just one regular season game left against Hibbing/Chisholm at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, in Two Harbors.
They also have two of the four top goal scorers in the region in senior Sami Szendrey and sophomore Morgan Beardsley.
The defense and goalies Tricia Osbakken and Callie Bergerson have combined for four shutouts and have allowed one goal in an additional three games.
The real change has been on the offensive end, where the Agates have topped three goals in eight games — all wins.
"It really comes to our team gelling with our passing strategies and passing concepts that we've been practicing all season," coach Tom Szendrey said. "We really started it last year and it is really making sense this year. It's really a progression. Our offensive concepts, our defensive concepts — they are really grasping them well."
Szendrey said he expected his team to improve and have a winning season, but with a win Monday, Oct. 8, over Hibbing/Chisholm, Two Harbors would be eight games over .500 and headed into the playoffs ranked fourth out of 17 Section 7A teams.
Szendrey said another reason for the Agates' success is the performance of players who have seen little or no varsity action before this season.
"We've had some players that haven't seen much varsity action in the past who have really stepped in and played with the confidence that we need them to," Szendrey said. "That's been a big part of our success. I feel we can play better, too. We can still elevate our game more and that's what we are trying to do in the next week."
Saturday, Sept. 29
North Branch 2-1—3
Two Harbors 3-2—5
First half — 1. TH, Morgan Beardsley, 6th; 2. NB, Paige Bauer, 6th; 3. TH, Sami Szendrey (Callie Bergerson), 10th; 4. TH, Beardsley (Bergerson), 21st; 5. NB, N/A, 21st.
Second half — 6. TH, Beardsley (Szendrey), 45th; 7. NB, Paige Bauer, 54th; 8. TH, Szendrey (Sydney Haugan), 77th.
Saves — Abby Johnson, NB, 15; Tricia Osbakken, TH, 6.
Tuesday, Oct. 2
Two Harbors 2-1—3 Mesabi East 0-0—0
First half — 1. Sami Szendrey (Calli Wright), 5th; 2. Szendrey (Elisa Galyen), 25th.
Second half — 3. Callie Bergerson (Elisa Galyen), 73rd.
Saves — Kaitlyn Larsen, ME, 23; TH (multiple) 0.