The only thing artificial about the Eagles 3-0 homecoming victory over the St. Croix Lutheran High School Crusaders was the turf. The match was originally scheduled to be played under the lights at East Ridge High School on Monday evening. Due to the severe thunderstorms blanketing the Twin Cities, the game was rescheduled twice and ultimately played indoors at the HealthEast Sorts Center field house. The venue change ultimately allowed the greater skill and determination of the home squad to prevail.
Both teams seemed to struggle with the high bounces and the weight of passes on the hard, slick indoor surface. Initially, the visitors displayed greater energy and seemed to carry the play to the home team. Midway through the initial half the tempo of the game began to shift to the Eagles. Time and again, they generated quality chances to score. Lightening struck as the first half was drawing to a close. At the 37 minute mark, senior Mark Rygh put a pass from Evan Atkinson into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead which seemed bigger than the score differential.
The second half began with the Eagles carrying their momentum forward. They seemed more in control and repeatedly carried the play to their opponents. Those efforts were rewarded at the 72 minute mark when senior midfielder Charlie Tourek blew past a Crusader defender down the right sideline and delivered a hard cross which the St. Croix keeper could not handle and fell to the foot of Nate Mueller who put it into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles keep advancing the play into Crusader territory and generated multiple quality scoring opportunities. Their persistence was rewarded at the 78 minute mark when senior Tate Hullet capitalized on a melee in the six yard box. After the keeper and the Crusader defenders blocked several Eagle shots, a rebound was corralled by Hullet and stuffed into the back of the net for a 3-0 advantage which stood until the final whistle.
The victory was very much a senior inspired affair. Tri-captains Zach Thor, Evan Atkinson and Tourek played great games as did the senior back line of Finley, Malley, Lassen and Thomas. Strikers Rygh and Mueller were also impressive. Several of these seniors have started for four years and have never lost a homecoming contest.This was also the second straight victory in which all goals were scored and assisted by seniors. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 7-6-3 record. They now await sectional seedings and their first playoff game. It was a wonderful effort team effort and a convincing victory. Go Eagles!