The winds of autumn blew into Aerie Stadium Wednesday night, bringing a chill to the air and providing some challenging conditions in the EPHS girls’ soccer team’s clash with Edina.
The two teams met earlier in the month on the Hornets’ home field, where Edina came away with a 2-1 win. The same team won by the same margin on a gusty evening in Eden Prairie, with the Hornets outlasting the Eagles 1-0 in a match that saw both teams battling the elements.
“The wind definitely came into play, you could see it on goal kicks and punts,” Eden Prairie head coach Kelly Taylor said. “Both teams adjusted to it, based on the half. Weather is always a factor but certainly balls in the air were getting moved around today.”
The only goal of the match came in the first half when Edina was playing with the wind at their backs. Hornets’ junior midfielder and captain Ashley Thurk provided all the scoring Edina would need.
Chances were difficult to come by for both teams in the defensive struggle, with Edina managing four shots on goal to just one for Eden Prairie. Despite her team’s lack of scoring opportunities, Taylor liked the improvement she saw from their meeting with the Hornets earlier in the season.
“We played much better with them tonight than we did when we were there, even though the score line was still a one goal game,” Taylor said. “The last time we gave up 25 or 26 shots, today we definitely didn’t hit that number. We’ve locked down on the back end and I’m happy with what they’ve done.”
The Eagles’ backfield held firm against the Hornets’ offensive surges throughout the game. Junior defender Avery Wallace led the way and received player of the game honors for her part in keeping the defending Lake Conference champions in check.
“She’s like a hero,” junior goalkeeper Lily Mattison said. “She’s the one that picks up every ball that’s missed, she’s the one that steps up when something needs to be stepped to. I don’t know if I could do it without her in front of me.”
The loss drops the Eagles to 0-5 in Lake Conference play and 3-6-2 overall. Edina improves to 4-3 in the conference and 6-4 overall.
“I think we know we fought to the best of our ability,” Mattison said. “It didn’t come out our way but I think that will give us more grit to go into the next game.”
That next game is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. when the Eagles host St. Michael-Albertville at Aerie Stadium.
“We tied up at their place,” Taylor said. “We’re looking forward to having them come to town and looking forward to seeing the growth we’ve made.”
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