FAIRMONT - New Ulm's Nicolas Gartner did not start Friday night's season-opening soccer game against Fairmont Area, but the senior midfielder made a big impact at Kot Soccer Complex.
Gartner hammered home a pair of first-half goals, while junior midfielder Jon Sehloff distributed three assists to steer the visiting Eagles to a 4-1 Big South Conference victory over the Cardinals in Fairmont.
"Not too bad for your first shift of the season," New Ulm mentor Jack Gronholz said jokingly to Gartner, who staked the purple-and-white to a 2-0 edge on the scoreboard.
MAKING A CUT — Fairmont Area forward Sam Havnen (3) looks to maneuver around New Ulm defender Joel Koelpin during season-opening Big South Central soccer action on Friday night at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont. (Photo courtesy of Randy Chirpich)
With the hard-working Sehloff quarterbacking the Eagles' attack, Gartner produced the visitors' first goal of the campaign. Sehloff lofted a perfect approach from the left endline off a direct kick and Gartner used a header to find the Cardinals' open net for a 1-0 lead with 12:51 remaining.
Sehloff earned another direct kick from nearly the same spot almost 4 minutes later, with Gartner converting Josh Koelpin's rebound into a two-goal margin with 9:06 left before intermission.
Sehloff then lofted one of New Ulm's 14 corner kicks from the left endline, and the fleet-footed Noah Webb corraled the pass and found nothing but net for a 3-0 edge with 16:53 remaining in the second half.
Senior forward Sam Havnen then spoiled Eagles' goalkeeper Isaac Lager's shutout bid by converting a penalty kick at the 15:38 juncture. Havnen drove right before curling the ball into the left corner to slice the Cardinals' deficit to 3-1.
Ben Timmerman and Evan Ward then applied some offensive pressure down the stretch, but Lager proved worthy of the challenges. Timmerman drilled a curling shot from just left of the point that Lager snagged at the 11-minute mark. The New Ulm netminder then deflected Ward's breakaway blast down the pipe to maintain the Eagles' two-goal lead at the 9:28 juncture.
Christian Linan then added an insurance goal off a left-wing entry pass from Sam Hoppe to extend the visitors' lead to 4-1 with 5:28 left in regulation.
Lager finished with four saves for the Eagles, while Cardinal goalkeeper Kyle Tromanhauser Jr. produced a dozen stops.
Fairmont Area (0-1, 0-1 Big South) travels to St. Peter today for a 1 p.m. contest, while New Ulm (1-0, 1-0) hits the road to Southwest Minnesota Christian on Tuesday.
New Ulm 2-2-4
NU - Nicolas Gartner (Jon Sehloff), 12:51.
NU - Nicolas Gartner (Josh Koelpin, Jon Sehloff), 9:06.
NU - Noah Webb (Jon Sehloff), 16:53.
FA - Sam Havnen penalty kick, 15:38.
NU - Christian Linan (Sam Hoppe), 5:28.
Shots on goal: New Ulm 10-6-16; Fairmont Area 1-4-5.
Saves: Kyle Tromanhauser Jr. (FA) 8-4-12; Isaac Lager (NU) 1-3-4.
New Ulm posted a 2-0 victory over Fairmont Area during junior varsity boys action Friday at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.
Fairmont Area (0-1) travels to St. Peter today.
Fairmont Area 4, New Ulm 1 - Senior striker Sierra Schultz produced a natural hattrick to power the Cardinals to a season-opening 4-1 Big South Conference win over the Eagles on Friday at the Martin Luther College Fields in New Ulm.
Schultz delivered the first of her three opening-half goals off an assist from Kristin Hansen before Lexi Johnson found Schultz for Goal 2 with an assist for a 2-0 Fairmont Area lead.
Schultz then blasted home her third consecutive goal off a pass from Myah Lytle to send the Cardinals into halftime with a 3-0 edge.
Schultz then turned playmaker by collecting an assist on Hayley Jones' second-half goal for Fairmont Area, which posted a 24-9 shots-on-goal advantage.
Bridget Brown tallied the Eagles' only goal during the second half.
Cardinal goalkeeper Alex Christianson generated eight saves to earn the victory, while Eagles netminder Emily Schotzko made 20 stops.
Fairmont Area (1-0, 1-0 Big South) plays host to New Prague at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont, while New Ulm (0-1, 0-1) hits the road to Hutchinson on Tuesday.
Six different Fairmont Area players reached the scoring column to steer the visiting Cardinals to a 6-1 junior varsity victory over the Eagles on Friday in New Ulm.
Brooke Smith, Kali DeBoer, Jenna Sauck, Mikayla Soelter, Brooke Hunwardsen and Lindsey Miles each scored goals for the Cardinals.
Cassidy Krusemark and Haley Burmeister each played a half between the pipes to share the goalkeeping win for Fairmont Area.
The Cardinals outshot the Eagles by a 31-12 margin.
Fairmont Area (1-0) travels to Mankato East on Thursday for a 3 p.m. game.