Sometimes it only takes one goal to break things open and start a scoring run.
Tied at one with under 15 minutes left, the Chi-Hi girls soccer team scored three goals in under five minutes as they defeated Superior in a nonconference contest at Dorais Field on Tuesday.
Hazel Behling broke the tie at 76:57 and then Isabelle and Lily Spooner each tacked on goals as Chi-Hi (5-8-1) ended a three-game losing streak.
Superior struck first as Katheryn Polkinghorne scored for the Spartans about 10 minutes into the game.
The Cardinals responded about 10 minutes later as Haley Pynch put one past the goalkeeper.
After that things slowed down as each team tried to find an opening through some strong defense.
Chi-Hi coach Justin Engum felt good about where his team was at as both teams battled back-and-forth looking for a go-ahead score.
“I felt good about (the situation) because I seen the possession we held,” Engum said. “(Our) possession was increasing throughout the game as we got used to their shrinking of the field. We started to control the ball and got used to them clogging up the middle.”
Engum said he made an adjustment bringing replacements into the back line and moving some of the top defenders forward. The strategy of moving Katelyn Siddons and Isabelle Spooner into the front line is something Engum has been doing the past few games.
“The girls confidence goes up as soon at we put them up there,” Engum said.
That confidence carried over as the Cardinals found a spark the final 15 minutes.
Behling scored on a corner kick as the ball floated over the outstretched arms of the Superior goaltender where Behling punched it through to take a one goal advantage.
Exactly two minutes later, at 78:57, Isabelle Spooner shot one over the goalie and it bounced in for another quick score that put some distance between the Cardinals and the Spartans.
For good measure, Lily Spooner scored at 81:13 mark to put the game away.
Engum said the key to the late-game success was the changes in the team’s alignment once the Cardinals felt good about their back line not giving up any easy runs to the goal. To make the change Engum needed confidence in the team’s depth.
“You have to make the adjustments and trust in the players to come off the bench,” Engum said.
Engum said the team is getting contributions from all over the roster, from the senior captains, to the first-time varsity level players and individuals on the team who hadn’t played soccer until this season. This puts them in position to be competitive against any team they face.
“We would like to compete against each and every team we play throughout the rest of the season,” Engum said.
The Cardinals have four conference game remaining. On Thursday the team travels to River Falls as they try to seek revenge from an early season defeat to the Wildcats. They still have games against Eau Claire Memorial and North as well as Hudson. Three of the four conference teams on the upcoming schedule are higher up in the standings, but Engum believes they can be competitive against the top teams.
He is also confident the team can find success once the postseason starts.
“When we have time to rest and prepare, we are a very good team,” Engum said.
Travis Nyhus can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Twitter @travisnyhus.