Astros tame Tigers
The worldwide popularity of soccer was evident at the Moorhead Youth Soccer Tournament on Sunday. The Pelican Rapids Tigers, a team of Mexico, Somolia and few United States natives, provided an example of soccer's international appeal when they f...
The worldwide popularity of soccer was evident at the Moorhead Youth Soccer Tournament on Sunday.
The Pelican Rapids Tigers, a team of Mexico, Somolia and few United States natives, provided an example of soccer's international appeal when they faced off against the Moorhead Astros, a team made up primarily of Fargo-Moorhead area players.
The Astros won the 19-and-under boys championship with a 3-0 victory over the Tigers, who despite their different nationalities all reside in the Pelican Rapids area.
"Most of them grew up playing soccer," Tigers coach Michelle Grinstead said. "Now we have the youth soccer program in Pelican Rapids so it helps."
Because Saturday's heavy rains forced tournament officials to cancel the championship games, age division champions were determined by pool play points.
The Astros earned the title with three shutout victories.
Both teams attacked the net early, taking several shots.
Some came close to goals, but others misfired badly because of the slick surface.
Moorhead's Cole Nirschl broke the scoreless tie with a goal off a corner kick by Dorian Zelaya.
"I told them we've got to play intense," Astros coach Tony Eggiman said. "After we got that first goal, they kept it coming."
Andrew Fuxa went top shelf with a header off a corner kick midway through the second half to extend the Astros lead to 2-0.
Shortly after, Moorhead's Matt Peterson fired a long centering pass intended to set up another header. But the ball sailed too high for Pelican Rapids goalkeeper Porforio Diaz and ended up in the top left corner of the net.
"After the second goal, they started shutting down," Fuxa said.
Pelican Rapids midfielder Miguel Diaz had several first-half shot attempts, but saw many sail over the goal and a pair of others hit the crossbar.
"We were a good team, but they're a better team," said Diaz, who was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, but moved to Pelican Rapids six years ago when his family found job opportunties.
"We did good for being so young and playing against this kind of team," said Diaz, who added that he plans to attend Concordia College in the fall and hopes to walk-on to the men's soccer team.
Although their teams were rivals on the soccer field during the high school season last fall, Ashley Herold and Alyssa Wiebusch joked, laughed and celebrated together Sunday.
Herold was one of three former Moorhead High School players - Tracy Ritland and Quinn Morlock also played - who helped the Brainerd girls 19-and-under team earn the championship at the Moorhead Youth Soccer Tournament.
Brainerd defeated the Fergus Falls Cyclones 3-0 to win the pool play title.
"We clicked right away," Wiebusch said. "It's always nice getting to play with people we played against in high school."
The Spuds defeated Brainerd 3-1 in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 title game last October.
Brainerd coach Mike Uphoff said the team was missing some of its key players and asked the Moorhead trio if they'd like to fill the guest positions on the team.
Uphoff and assistant coach Steve Sexton said they immediately noticed differences.
"They play with a lot of confidence," Sexton said. "That rubs off on the rest of the team."
Wiebusch broke an early scoreless game, dribbling the ball from her left to right foot and easily scoring with a boot to the top right corner of the net.
Herold followed suit with a smooth left-footed punch into the bottom right corner of the net. The former first-team all-stater added another goal early in the second half.
"Even though we were rivals, we did a good job together," Herold said
Uphoff and Sexton praised the Moorhead and Brainerd players' eagerness to play with a common goal after playing against each other so often.
"They (the Moorhead players) were part of the team this weekend," Sexton said. "That says a lot about this team."
Cyclones coach Ron Henely was pleased with his team's performance, despite being held scoreless.
"Our team learned a lot today," Henely said. "We're going to take what we learned and use it for the rest of the summer."
All three Moorhead players will continue playing at the college level.
Ritland will play for the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joesph, Minn. Morlock, who graduated in 2004, started all 19 games for Luther College (Decorah, Iowa). Herold has accepted a scholarship to St. Cloud State
"They gave me a chance to play and a few dollars for it," Herold said. "Plus my parents said its not so far. They like to watch my games. They love soccer."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dustin Monke at (701) 241-5549