The first half hour looked promising for the Prairie Falcons in the opening round of the Class 3A state girls soccer playoffs.
Then something happened.
“I don’t think we wanted it as much as they did,” Prairie senior standout Aimee Kurfurst said after Shorecrest of Shoreline ended the Falcons’ season with a 1-0 victory Tuesday evening at Prairie High School.
“They were meaner. They were tougher. They wanted it more.”
Her coach agreed with that assessment.
“Our first 30 minutes were fantastic,” Prairie coach Michael Thyron said. “We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. (The Scots) were just a little hungrier than we were. They were very aggressive. You could see the momentum shift a little. Can’t fault my girls. They played hard. They battled.”
It’s just that the Scots battled and played a little harder those final 50 minutes of the match.
Lauren Brown made a fantastic move, then found Emily Hicks with a smooth pass, allowing Hicks to score from just about point-blank range a minute into the second half.
“I sprinted to the ball and I knew I had to beat the defender and try to cross it because the angle was closed off,” Brown said. “I saw Emily.”
The Falcons, who had several scoring chances early in the match, had very few in the second half. A final-minute corner kick created one last threat, but Shorecrest survived and advanced.
The Scots acknowledged that the Falcons had the better start to the match.
“We talked and really pumped ourselves up to get ready for the second half,” Brown said.
It worked. The Scots scored so early and took advantage of that momentum.
“It just motivated us to work harder, to not let the other team score. It just helped our confidence to keep going,” Brown said.
Shorecrest goalkeeper Kate Wiper had six saves in the shutout, most coming in the early going. Shorecrest controlled the ball for most of the second half.
While disappointed in defeat, the Falcons can take pride in another successful season. Prairie made it to back-to-back state playoff appearances for the first time in program history.
“It’s been a blast. I have a very close relationship with the coach, very close relationships with the kids I go to school with, and the student body is always supporting us,” said Kurfurst, one of the team’s captains, moments after her final high school contest. “It’s very, very demanding because we practice every single day of the week. But for the most part, it’s a blast.
“I left on a good note, I think.”