There is a lot to cheer for at Hillcrest this fall. Students in hallways are singing new songs rehearsed in choir. Big ideas are fleshed-out in Chapel as teachers dig deep into the minds of students and pull out complex thoughts using curriculum. Fall sports are revealing the character of Hillcrest's student body and resilience is a good descriptor.
Hillcrest's girls soccer is taking large strides in improvement. Their first game was played after a couple short weeks of practice. Hosting a cross-town match against the Fergus Falls Otter, Hillcrest fell 3-0 in the opener.
Resolving to put together a better performance than their home kick-off, the Comets walloped a competent Melrose team 5-2. Showing that their win wasn't a fluke, the ladies put together a complete game against a swift Walker-Hackensack-Akeley club. Their second win of the season reinforced improvements made in controlling the midfield and taking strong strikes from the corners. Confidence, clearly lacking in the first contest versus Fergus, was more evident against Walker as strikes from the top of the box and rebounds from shots taken 15 feet out found the net in their 3-0 shutout.
When Hillcrest hosted Detroit Lakes (DL) they knew the test in their improvement would be even harder. DL's offensive pressure created difficulties for Hillcrest's midfielders, who struggled to work the ball past midfield more than a handful of times during the game. Strong passing late in the first half carried into the second as Hillcrest worked to beat DL's expert goalie. Hillcrest senior Emma Royce was equally as busy in the net, stopping nearly 30 shots in the contest, almost 20 in the first half alone. The Comet defenders retained their poise and Royce battled in the net, allowing a meager 4 shots to reach the back.
Monday's game was circled in red after their August contest versus the Otters. The 7pm match was highlighted by the new Otter field, with the game held under the lights. As the Comets stepped onto the astroturf field they felt the weight of the game. A new start to their season, after earning a 2-2 mark following their 3-0 loss to the Otters in August.
The Comets worked to control the ball. Attacking from the wings, Hillcrest's sharp passes looked quicker on the turf as the white ball reflected the bright lights. A miscue on defense allowed a sharp pass from Otter Sherry Johnson to reach Miranda Hoffman. Hoffman's strong strike blasted past Royce in the first period. The Otters stepped into the lead with a 1-0 margin that they looked to build on. However, the Comets were stronger this time around.
A stout defense and better ball control in the midfield enabled the Comets to linger in the game. After the half the Comets set out to continue their strong presence on the field. Deep into the second half, after Royce earned her keep due to her strong presence in defending the goal, Hillcrest scored. With five minutes remaining on the clock, Hillcrest captain Vanessa Konynenbelt found a crease and directed the ball past the Otter goal keeper. The 1-1 tie, with minutes remaining in the game, would stand as the final score. A picture of improvement for the girls who's consistent dedication in practice is paying dividends on the field.
Hillcrest hosts Crookston Thursday at 4pm at the Danielsen field.