FAIRMONT - Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, but Fairmont Area's "Everest" strategy helped the Cardinals scale a one-goal halftime deficit on Tuesday.
Senior striker Sierra Schultz delivered a pair of second-half goals to cap the Cardinals' 2-1 cardiac comeback victory over the New Prague Trojans during non-league soccer action at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont.
"The difference in the second half stemmed from a thing we call 'Everest.' The girls really came out and applied the pressure, and our defense really picked up the intensity and it just carried forward," said Fairmont Area mentor Matt Nielsen.
LOOKING FOR A TEAMMATE — Fairmont Area’s Kayley Shoen (12) looks upfield for a Cardinal teammate to pass to as New Prague’s Josie Herrmann (18) and Leah Bissell (1) give chase during non-league soccer action Tuesday at Kot Soccer Complex in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
The fleet-footed Schultz, who produced a hat trick during the Cardinals' season-opening 4-1 victory over New Ulm last Friday, evened the score at 1-all less than nine minutes into the second 40-minute half.
Midfielder Kristin Hansen, a talented foreign exchange student from Norway, threaded the needle on a perfect lead pass between a pair of Trojan defenders to a breaking Schultz.
Schultz steamed past New Prague's last line of defense before lofting a shot over goalkeeper Ally Kubes' stretched-out fingertips and into the right top shelf of the net for a 1-1 score at the 31:37 juncture.
Schultz then muscled her way for a steal near midfield, cut right into the middle and lofted a liner over a diving Kubes to stake Fairmont Area to a 2-1 edge with 11:14 remaining in regulation.
"That was a huge comeback. It was something we definitely needed mentally. We were behind 1-0 at halftime and proved that we could battle back to win," said Nielsen.
Forward Grace Yackley staked the Trojans to an early 1-0 lead off of a perfect crossing pass from Delaney McLoone at the 31:15 mark of the opening half.
McLoone drove the left endline, weaved toward the left post and curled a perfect pass to Yackley along the right side. Yackley tapped in the goal for the one-goal margin.
Striker Kayley Shoen nearly knotted the game by drilling back-to-back missiles at the Trojans' net that Kubes prevented from crossing the line.
Shoen's breakaway blast down the heart of the field nearly sneaked past Kubes, who dropped to her knees to deflect the shot with 4:30 left in the opening half.
Shoen then drove the endline before smacking a curling right-to-left shot that Kubes got her fingertips on to alter its projectory just wide of the post.
Sierra Schrader and Riann Dietz each delivered long rushes upfield to help run time of the scoreboard during the final four minutes of regulation.
Cardinal goalkeeper Alex Christianson made 13 saves to earn the victory, while Kubes chalked up nine stops.
Fairmont Area (2-0, 1-0 Big South) travels to Mankato East on Thursday for a 3 p.m. non-league game.
New Prague (1-1-1) plays host to New Ulm at 7 p.m. Thursday night.
New Prague 1-0-1
NP - Grace Yackley (Delaney McLoone), 31:15.
FA - Sierra Schultz (Kristin Hansen), 31:37.
FA - Sierra Schultz (unassisted), 11:14.
Shots on goal: Fairmont Area 4-7-11; New Prague 9-5-14.
Saves: Alex Christianson (FA) 8-5-13; Ally Kubes (NP) 4-5-9.