Mesabi East Area falls to Grand Rapids, 3-1

AURORA — After getting a taste of winning last week, the Mesabi East Area girls’ soccer team wanted to put another notch in the win column.

The Giants put their best foot forward Tuesday in Aurora, but came up a bit short in a 3-1 loss to visiting Grand Rapids.

Junior goalkeeper Kylie Baranzelli stopped 20 shots and junior Madison Steele dented the mesh in the second half to pace a solid Mesabi East effort.

Head coach Sue Bennett was happy with her club, considering Grand Rapids defeated them soundly in a shutout last year.

“3-1 today was excellent for us. They played really well, Bennett said after the game.

Recalling Baranzelli’s game, she added, “she had an excellent night.’’

After testing Baranzelli early and often, the Thunderhawks finally broke through when Abbey Birkey just slipped the ball past the Giants keeper at the 21:15 mark to make it 1-0.

Grand Rapids continued to pepper Baranzelli and even hit the crossbar, but the scored remained 1-0 after the first half.

The Thunderhawks made it 2-0 when Taelyn Pomplun collected a crossing pass and put the ball in the back of the net. Just four minutes later, Taylor Birkey put the visitors ahead 3-0 with 22:12 to play.

Mesabi East continued to battle and finally got rewarded for their efforts. At the 18:40 mark, Steele took Laura Holmstrom’s corner kick and knocked the ball past ‘Hawks goalkeeper Makenzie Cole to make it 3-1.

Thunderhawks head coach Brooke Moses said it was a really good corner kick Mesabi East scored on. “They deserved to score that goal. It was really a nice goal.’’

The Giants fell to 1-2 with the loss, while Grand Rapids improved to 1-1.

Moses was happy to see her team rebound from a rough start in their season opener last week.

“I think that we finally finished the ball. It took us a while but we finally put the ball in the back of the net’’ with three really nice goals.

Moses said her team had too many turnovers in the first half before starting to click in the second stanza.

“In the second half, we were finally able to connect passes, stop turning it over and finally find feet, which I think helped us out.’’

The Thunderhawks also appeared to be getting to more balls and were being more aggressive in the contest.

Abbey Birkey led the way in that regard for Grand Rapids.

“She’s a workhorse. She never stops working. That’s why I can’t seem to keep her on the bench. I have to keep her on the field in any position because she is a workhorse. She just works. She wants to be on the field. She wants that ball.’’

Mesabi East Area next hosts Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Sept. 19 in Aurora.

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