Thunder end great season with loss to Railhawks
Heading into a Section 7A quarterfinal matchup with No. 3 Hermantown, the No. 6 Zimmerman girls soccer team knew they were in for a challenge.
Consistently a top team in the section, the Railhawks defeated the Thunder last season in a No. 6 versus No. 11 seed battle. Hermantown proved victorious then by a score of 7-1, but Zimmerman was determined to give them a better fight this time around.
Coming in with a 10-6 record, the Thunder had improved mightily from a year ago, taking out No. 11 North Lakes Academy 9-1 at home in the first round. But, the only problem was that the Railhawks hadn’t lost a step either and it showed in a 6-0 victory over the Thunder on Oct. 13 at Proctor High School, bringing Zimmerman’s breakout season to an end.
“Knowing how they handled Spectrum in round one was a concern, so we went hoping to get an early goal to perhaps set them back a bit but it didn’t go that way,” Downing said, referencing Hermantown’s 13-0 victory over the Sting in the first round. “Still, the season has been a great one in terms of program progress.”
Thunder goalkeeper Gabby Weber kept the girls in the game early on, making 19 saves on 22 shots in the first half.
Facing a 3-0 hafltime deficit, Zimmerman hoped to turn it around in the second half, just a couple days after scoring seven unanswered goals in the second half against North Lakes, but the offense just couldn’t find a rhythm. In total, the Thunder had three shots in the first half and five in the second half,
Despite a sad ending to the season, Downing couldn’t be more proud of the team for improving from a six-win team to a 10-win team, earning a first round section home match in the process. Beyond that, he thought the girls shined just as bright away from the field as they did on it.
“As their coach, I am honored to have the chance to lead them. The statistical accomplishments are worthy of recognition but I am most pleased with the growth I have seen in the girls’ character,” Downing said. “We spoke about discovering individual purpose through our experiences. The girls were eager to serve and volunteer and discover the happiness gained from helping others.
“Any time you have dozens of young people together, you have potential for social conflict and personality clashes. This group was able to put those tendencies aside to focus on the greater good of the team and those represented by the team.”
The team’s tight knit nature allowed them to come together and recover from a tough 0-3 start to the season.
Downing said that the key to their success was switching from a 4-4-2 formation to a formation that relied on holding midfielders and only three back defenders – something he felt fit his team’s skill set better. And as the year went along, the team just grow more confident in one another, which led to a 9-3 finish to the regular season including a four-game winning streak following the 0-3 start.
That was enough to earn them a first round section home match, which ended up being a convincing 9-1 victory and quite a farewell for the team’s three seniors: Alli Funaro, Karissa Heyer and Katie Jacob.
“It was exciting to get that home game and fun to win with eight players scoring and all three of our seniors scoring as well,” Downing said. “Our seniors were very important members of the team for the last few years as leaders on and off the field. Each has shown what it means to accept the role needed by the team, and each was asked to fill many. The skill development and deeper understanding of the game that the team has gained is attributable to the character of these three young ladies.”
There’s no replacing the leadership Funaro, Heyer and Jacob brought to the table every day, but Downing believes he has a young team that is ready to build on their best season since 2014, which was the last time the program had a winning record and won a section game.
Ella Kostrzewski returns for her sophomore season after leading the team with 12 goals, while Danie Scott also returns for her sophomore season after tying Jacob for second on the team with 11 goals. On the back end, Funaro is the only non-returning defender, while goalkeepers Gabby Weber and Josie Rowley return for their senior and sophomore seasons, respectively.
In other words, the future looks bright for Zimmerman girls soccer.
“If we can start next year where we have left this one, I think we could make another step forward,” Downing said. “The piece we have no control over is how much different other teams will look next year. We will have to continue to work to reach the level of some of the consistently successful programs, but I think we have the players in the system to make that happen very soon.”
Thunder girls eliminated in second round
Zimmerman's Section 7A quarterfinal game against the Hermantown Railhawks was hosted by Proctor, taking advantage of their new turf facilities. The field was wonderful, the weather not quite as cooperative. Strong winds prevailed throughout the game and the Thunder's limited experience on turf added to the struggles created by a quality opponent, losing to the Railhawks 6-0.
Gabby Weber was in goal and did a great job keeping Zimmerman in the game throughout the first half, posting 19 saves. This was by far the busiest game for Zimmerman's defending crew. The half time score was 3-0, with one of those being an unfortunate own goal.
Statistically, Hermantown dominated the game by reacting very efficiently to every ball. They had spot on touches and found teammates very well. Considering the statistical advantage they earned, Thunder head coach Jeff Downing said he was pleased the team still had a chance to make a game of it.
Yet, the Thunder offense never really found a rhythm, having only three shots in the first half and five in the second, with the Railhawk goalkeeper making every stop.
Still, the season has been a great one in terms of program progress, as the Thunder improved their record from 6-9-2 last season to 10-7 this season. Downing said his three seniors Alli Funaro, Karissa Heyer and Katie Jacob played a big part in that.
"They were very important members of the team for the last few years as leaders on and off the field," he said. "Each has shown what it means to accept the role needed by the team, and each was asked to fill many. The skill development and deeper understanding of the game that the team has gained is attributable to the character of these three young ladies."
Downing also said that he was proud of the way the team bounced back from a tough start to the season to become a winning team and earn themselves a first-round section home game, which they won against North Lakes by a score of 9-1 on Oct. 11. In turn, he's optimistic about the future.
"Our ability to bounce back from an 0-3 start and turn the season in to a 10-7 outing gives cause to have high expectations for 2019," Downing said.
This report was provided by the Zimmerman soccer program.
Zimmerman girls soccer
The No. 6 Thunder hosted the No. 11 North Lakes Huskies in the opening round of Section 7A playoffs. The home team emerged with a 9-1 win.
Opening the scoring in the 14th minute for Zimmerman was Hannah Nelson. Her goal was answered in the 30th minute by Kiera Holland of North Lakes. Katie Jacob topped that goal with a strike in the 34th minute, setting the score at 2-1 at the half.
The frigid weather reduced the halftime break to five minutes, so there was only time to address one issue, being first to the ball.
"Playoffs can change the way a player performs since it is a single-elimination tournament," Thunder head coach Jeff Downing said. "We were playing too cautiously and needed encouragement to just play the game. The message was well received and the final score reflected the more aggressive mindset."
Danie Scott began the attack one minute into the the second half and followed her goal with an assist two minutes later to Ella Kostrzewski. In the 54th minute, Abby Larson found the net and scored her second of the game in the 59th minute. Alli Funaro completed a nice run onto the ball and put it away in the 60th minute. Karissa Heyer reentered the game in the 63rd minute and scored. Avery Berg wrapped up the scoring in the 69th minute.
The tense play in the first half put a great deal of pressure on Thunder Keeper Gabby Weber, who may have turned in her best performance thus far. She stopped seven high quality shots in the first half to keep the game under control.
As a result, Zimmerman travels to play at No. 3 Hermantown on Saturday.
This report was courtesy of the Zimmerman soccer program.
Thunder girls soccer finishes season on high note
The Zimmerman girls soccer team finished a 9-6 regular season campaign with a 3-1 victory at Legacy Christian on Sept. 27.
Katie Jacob put the team on her back, scoring two goals in the first nine minutes of the match before adding the Thunder’s third goal with two minutes remaining. Zimmerman’s Gabby Weber played the first half in net, totaling six saves, before Josie Rowley took over in the second half, making one save on two shots.
The Thunder also closed out their regular season home schedule, losing a tight battle to St. Cloud Cathedral 2-1 on Sept. 26. Jacob scored the lone goal for Zimmerman, while Weber was stellar in net with 13 saves on 15 shots.
Zimmerman will use the next couple of weeks to rest up and prepare for the Section 7A tournament, which starts on Oct. 11.
Thunder strike for 22 goals in three straight wins
Back-to-back contests produced back-to-back wins for the Thunder girls. Coming off a 4-1 victory over St. John’s Prep on Aug. 28, the Thunder built on their first win of the year with a dominating 11-1 win over North Lakes.
This game marked the second showing of a more aggressive style of play with eight players scoring goals. Danie Scott led the way with a hat trick, while Ella Kostrzewski added two more. Katie Jacob, Randi Schwieger, Karissa Heyer, Sydney Sayre, Ella Williams and Hannah Nelson rounded out a rare 11-goal performance with one goal apiece. Freshman goalkeeper Josie Rowley earned her second victory in net.
Following the blowout win, the Thunder’s offensive dominance continued with a 7-3 victory over Melrose, extending Zimmerman’s winning streak to three games — all coming on the road.
Kostrzewski led the way with two goals, while Scott, Schwieger, Reese Rivers and Josie Janu each added one more. The remaining goal was an own goal off a corner kick by Beth Kuker. Rowley was the winning goalkeeper.
Downing said the 22 goals this week could be a statistical record and he was happy to see the team control the ball and put quality shots on net. He added that as games tougher, he hopes the team can draw on their early successes.
The Thunder now stand at 3-3 on the year, recovering from an 0-3 start. They were scheduled to play at Little Falls on Sept. 5 followed by a game at Becker on Sept. 11.
Thunder rebound after rough start in Sandbur Cup
The Zimmerman girls soccer team got the season started at the eighth annual Sandbur Cup. The Thunder hosted junior varsity and varsity teams from Becker, Big Lake and Rockford in round robin play on Aug. 23 and 25.
This year’s game results were not favorable for the Thunder, who went 0-3 in the tourney. Their first defeat came from Rockford, who played a physical game that didn’t favor the smaller Zimmerman squad. The final score was 4-1 with each Rocket goal coming from a different player. The lone Thunder goal came in the second half from senior captain Katie Jacob.
The second round game paired Big Lake and Zimmerman. While the Thunder lost 3-1, the game was much more competitive. The Thunder opened the second half by tying the game at 1 apiece on a goal from Ella Williams, but Big Lake responded with two goals to seal the win.
Round three was the opening of Granite Ridge Conference play as Becker and Zimmerman faced off. Becker proved to be the most skilled and control oriented opponent, coming away with an 8-0 decision over Zimmerman. Ultimately, Becker came away as the 2018 Sandbur Cup Champions.
On a positive note, Zimmerman responded with a 4-1 win over St. John’s Prep on Aug. 28. Ella Kostrzewski scored the Thunder’s lone goal in the first half, while Katie Jacob, Beth Kuker and Reese Rivers added goals in the second half.
Head coach Jeff Downing was pleased with the way the team rebounded.
“The girls were asked to play with a different system than we used in the Sandbur Cup, the focus being more offense minded. They did a very nice job adjusting to some different position assignments and learning new roles on the fly,” he said.
Zimmerman also won their next game 11-1 over North Lakes on Aug. 29. Up next, the Thunder play Melrose on Aug. 31 and Little Falls on Sept. 4. Both games are on the road.
Zimmerman Middle School Girls Soccer Information.
Click the images below to see full size preview. Click this link to download the flyer.
Related Web Links