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Girls soccer: Roughriders shut down Knights

Whether there was a stiff wind at their backs -- or they were playing right into it -- the Grand Forks Red River girls soccer team was too much for Grand Forks Central.

Red River Central soccer
Red River's Sara Elgin, 2, bursts through fellow teammember, Erin McLeod and Central's Sami Wosick during the second half Thursday evening at South Middle School. Red River beat Central 7-0. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

Whether there was a stiff wind at their backs -- or they were playing right into it -- the Grand Forks Red River girls soccer team was too much for Grand Forks Central.

Red River scored two goals early in each half and forward Anne Marhula netted a hat trick as the Roughriders cruised to a 7-0 win over the Knights on Thursday night at South Middle School.

It was the season opener for the Riders, as well as Jessica Krog's Red River head coaching debut. The Knights dropped to 0-2.

"I thought we looked good," said Krog, who also coaches girls soccer at East Grand Forks Senior High during the fall. "We had a little bit of a chemistry issue in the first half, but we made good adjustments in the second half. We opened up the field a little bit."

Junior midfielder Monica Rustvang started the scoring for the Riders with a goal at 4:27 of the first half.

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About five minutes later, Marhula scored her first of three goals on a feed from senior forward Alexa Bateman.

"We made some nice combo plays," Krog said. "Our execution was okay for the first time out. There were some chances we missed, but nothing out of the ordinary for our first game."

Red River scored two more times before the end of the first half. Sophomore midfielder Sara Elgin scored in the 18th minute, while junior forward Erin McLeod scored on an assist by senior forward Liz Swartz a couple of minutes later.

The Knights elected to let Red River start with the wind. Central had hoped having its defensive unit closer to the team bench would allow the coaching staff to direct traffic.

"We wanted to have them on the near side so we could walk them through it," Central coach George DuBois said. "We wanted to be able to communicate with them. Whether that was a good idea or not, it's tough to tell. I don't know if we would have been able to generate much more with the wind."

Red River wasn't slowed going into the wind in the second half. Marhula scored two goals early in the half before Elgin, who received a centering pass from McLeod, scored her second of the game with 18:32 remaining for the final margin.

"Basically, Red River is a very tenacious team," DuBois said. "They pressure the ball well and force turnovers. Our girls weren't as physical as we would have liked. (Red River) is pretty offensively skilled. They did a nice job going wide and crossing."

Central goalie Claire Romo made 17 saves, while Red River goalkeeper Andrea Smith had two stops.

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"I was real happy with our second half, going against the wind," Krog said. "Those two early goals dictated how we would dominate the second half and control possession."

The Knights and the Riders will be in Bismarck-Mandan this weekend to compete in the East-West Crossover.

Sasha Yearwood
Red River's Sasha Yearwood knocks over Central's Monica Rustvang while fighting over the ball during the second half Thursday evening at South Middle School. Red River beat Central 7-0. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTSRED RIVER
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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