Sorenson's late goal lifts North girls soccer to crosstown win over Memorial

For the second time in their last three girls soccer meetings, the Eau Claire North Huskies took down the Eau Claire Memorial Old Abes in their crosstown rivalry match. A series that saw Memorial win every matchup with North for more than a decade has suddenly swung the other way as the Huskies are 2-0-1 against the Old Abes in their last three meetings.

This time the Huskies won 3-2 with a late goal from freshman Maddie Sorenson proving to be the difference. The defender’s goal came on a shot from way outside of the box and was angled perfectly over Memorial backup goalkeeper Maci Grabarczyk in the 64th minute.

The best part of the tally? It was the first varsity goal in Sorenson’s career.

“It felt good to get my first varsity goal in a game like this where it’s a really tight match,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson’s late score came just a few minutes after Memorial had tied the game back up. Old Abes sophomore Lydia Paulmier had unleashed cross after cross in front of the net and the Old Abes finally capitalized on one in the 58th minute when forward Avery Bredl buried a point blank shot to make it 2-2.

Memorial (3-5-2, 3-2-1 Big Rivers Conference) made life difficult for North (4-3-4, 3-2-2) throughout, even opening the scoring the first goal of the matchup in the 20th minute. Bredl found freshman forward Marlee Ferguson after the Abes had settled a corner kick and Ferguson ripped a low shot to North goalie Ella Peterson’s left and found the back of the net to open the scoring.

But everytime Memorial threw a punch, the Huskies had a counter. North answered with its first goal of the match less than 10 minutes later.

A free kick on Memorial’s side of the field for the Huskies in the wet and sloppy conditions took an in-between hop and ricocheted off of Old Abes goalie Ashlynn Schroeder and right to Huskies forward Miah Nelson. The junior was in the right place at the right time and cashed in on the rebound to make it 1-1.

“Just keeping our heads high,” Sorenson said of how the Huskies constantly responded. “Just knowing that a goal against us doesn’t define who we are and that we can bounce back after that.”

North wasn’t done yet. With the first half winding down, senior forward Claire Gannon got out on the run. She maneuvered her way through the Abes defenders and found herself with nothing but Schroeder between her and a goal.

The senior forward sent a shot towards the back left corner of the net and it had just enough juice to get across for the Huskies second goal of the game, this one in the 38th minute. The goal was assisted by Leah Luedtke and North carried the 2-1 lead into half.

“Claire is the focal point of our offense and teams know that and still have a hard time stopping her,” North head coach Terry Albrecht said. “She did a great job with the constant harassment up there and she has a very good, long stride to get her into space behind the defenders.”

The Huskies almost made it a 3-1 game in the opening five minutes of the second half. Nelson sent a near-perfect cross for a shot in front of the net, but Schroeder came out of net to make an impressive diving stop that ended the threat.

Schroeder came out of net to make a similar stop just a couple minutes later, but collided with a Huskies forward and was injured on impact. The junior had to exit the contest and the Old Abes turned to freshman junior varsity keeper Maci Grabarczyk to tend the net for the final 35 minutes.

“Undetermined at the moment. Potential concussion,” Memorial head coach Olivia Mroczenski said of Schroeder’s injury. “We’ll have to reevaluate, but yeah, big loss and definitely threw us for a loop there.”

Memorial seemed to amp up its aggressiveness on both ends following the injury to Schroeder. The Old Abes entered the game on a three-game losing streak after a strong start to the year and played hard to try and end the skid.

The aggressiveness did help net Memorial a goal to tie the match up, but Sorenson’s dagger followed soon after.

“Memorial always plays a high pressure game,” Albrecht said. “It’s just how you counterpunch that. You need to work the counter-attacks. You set them up, they get a little overly aggressive and you catch them out of sorts in the back and sneak one in and all of a sudden they have to play a different type of game… We were just able to take advantage of a lot of those situations.”

For North, the Huskies are now 3-1 in their last four and have seen their offense pick up. North has scored eight goals in its last four after scoring four in its first seven games of the year.

Meanwhile, Memorial will go back to the drawing board after dropping its fourth game in a row. It’s a crossroads moment for a team that has reached sectional finals in the past two seasons.

The Old Abes were able to rally after losing and tying matches against North for the first time in well over a decade last season and now will need to do it again.

“We have to look for some flexibility. We have to be prepared for anything,” Mroczenski said of how the Old Abes will try to get back in the win column. “The desire to win is the utmost most important thing. So [we’re] trying anything, because at this point, whatever we can do to win is what we need to do.”