By PATRICK SLACK
Little Falls’ record-shattering season came to an end in a closely-fought 4-1 match at second-seeded Sartell-St. Stephen, Saturday.
Little Falls nearly took the lead in the first half, just missing as a direct kick by Yorek hit the top bar and deflected straight down before being cleared out.
Both teams’ defenses remained stingy, until Sartell got on the board in the 26th minute to take a 1-0 edge into the break.
The Sabres then picked up the pressure, adding to their lead on a penalty kick in the 50th minute, one of 13 shots on goal in the second half.
Little Falls pulled back within a goal with eight minutes to play as freshman MiKel Vacek drilled a line drive off the keeper’s hands, assisted by Yorek.
However, Sartell was able to bounce back with a pair of goals in the next four minutes, putting the game away to reach the sub-section finals, where the Sabres would go on to win to set up a section final match with St. Cloud Cathedral.
Meyer had 14 saves in goal for the Flyers, who finished the season with a record of 11-4-2.
Seniors on this year’s team included Brianna Opatz, Danielle Moran, Rachelle LeBlanc, Yorek, Kirsten Welinski and Taylor Kunkel.
While the group experienced some lean times, winning 11 matches in the past four seasons combined, the experience gained from regular varsity playing time showed up in a big way as the team made its giant leap this fall.
“They were able to gain better decision making,” Little Falls head coach Marc Fritz said. “They didn’t have to be indecisive, acting instead of reacting to the game and that was huge. They were able to have a higher speed of play because they were always playing at a fast level.”
While the team has a talented mix of young players coming back, it will be difficult to match what this year’s contingent did.
“It’s going to be tough next year to get the same chemistry we had,” Fritz said. “They had the ability to make an impact and make others better. Their hard work is why everyone got better. This group of seniors was never beaten for lack of effort.”
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