About midway thought the season and coach Paul Anderla has the Anoka girls’ soccer team 2-3-0 (3-5-0 overall) and in sixth place in the Northwest Suburban Conference.
No doubt expectations were better for one of the top programs in recent memory, but that isn’t deterring the Tornadoes who have plenty left to play for.
Anoka opened the season with a 3-2 win at home over Bloomington Jefferson, but then lost three straight. It dropped 2-0 losses against rival Coon Rapids and East Ridge before Elk River slipped past with a 2-1 win.
The Tornadoes regained their form in another close match, this time a 2-1 win at Blaine, which is coming off a state tournament appearance.
Two more losses (1-0 to Andover and 2-1 in overtime to Stillwater) set the table for a Sept. 17 match against neighboring Champlin Park at Goodrich Field, which Anoka won 4-2.
Anderla felt that despite the fact that Anoka came up short in overtime against Stillwater, the lessons learned from the game will last a long time.
“Honestly, I think our game against Stillwater had more impact on our team than the win against Champlin Park,” he said. “Playing for hours in the rain against a tough opponent on the road, they were able to come together and play with an attitude and a purpose.”
He saw some of those characteristics emerge again against the Rebels.
Anoka scored a season-high four goals with two goals from leading scorer Katie Beckman. The junior forward scored once in each half with the second coming 20 minutes into the game.
After the Rebels cut the lead to 2-1, Anoka’s Brittany Nahring made it 3-1 with eight minutes left. Champlin Park pulled within one goal again only to have Tornadoes varsity newcomer Jenna Johnson score to make it 4-2 three minutes from time.
“Last night was a good win for us, we have been struggling to put the ball in the net on a consistent basis so to get four [goals] was nice,” Anderla said.
Weathering the offensive struggles, he said the strength of the team has shown through its ability to stay united and focused.
“We definitely hoped for a quicker start to the season, but we frequently discuss our ultimate goals and continue to work together to reach them,” Anderla said, pointing to the senior leadership by captains MacKenzie Winters, Nahring and Katie Verkuillen.
“Most of them have been to at least two section finals and even a state tourney, so they know the hard work it takes to get there,” he said.
According to Anderla, there is plenty of time left in the regular season for Anoka to find its winning edge and if history is any indicator of the future, Anoka should be fine come October.
Jason Olson is at