AVI MCGREGOR controls the ball during a game earlier this season. The freshman is an excellent passer and has been a key to the Hornets’ success this season.

Ladies get a big win

Staff Writer
Ken Francis


The Big Lake girls soccer team has been playing some of its best soccer of the season over the past week. 
That showed earlier in the week when the Hornets knocked off the top seed in the sections, Maranatha Academy, 1-0 at home Monday.
In the 30th minute Kallie Nordberg launched a rocket from the 40-yard mark just under the upright for the game’s only goal. 
“This is my fifth season coaching at Big Lake. I have been waiting for all this time to see such beautiful soccer played,” said Coach Mike Turner. “Tonight we got a glimps of just that. We controlled the tempo of the entire game, both with the wind and against the wind. We let our passing and the ball do all the work.”
It was passing and teamwork that put the game away. Freshman Avi McGregor was a big part of the team’s play. 
“Her foot skills are a thing of beauty,” said Turner. “Then team her up with Kallie and our 1-2 punch is starting to click.”
  In the second half, the Hornets looked to shut all play down - controlling the tempo enough to dictate the play and slow play in order to preserve the lead. 
“We called on Madie Mathiason to mark their most dangerous threat. She did a stellar job,” said Turner. “At the end of the game the referee shook my hand and said “now that was beautiful soccer!” I am very proud of the way this team is coming together. They are a fun bunch to watch.”
Maranatha was 9-3 going into the game, and sitting in the top seat in sections with the best record.
The game was also senior night, and all five seniors, Casey Tillman, Kallie Nordberg, Brittney Paulson, Caitlin Engberg, and Madisann Sayler started and played some of their best soccer.
Last week, Big Lake lost to Chisago Lakes, 4-2.
“It was a tale of two halves. In the first half the score was 2-0 Big Lake,” said Turner. “We had the wind and the will.”
The first goal came from a beautiful cross outside the 18 from Nordberg to a running Michaela Trutna for a tap-in goal. Later in the first half a long 30-plus yard screamer from Kallie Nordberg cleared the goalie’s fingertips to put Big Lake up 2-0.
“The second half was a cluster of mistakes... falling back into old habits, fighting the wind and playing a very hungry Chisago Lakes team,” said Turner. “They scored four unanswered goals to close out the game, 4-2.”
Tuesday, Big Lake lost to North Branch, 2-0.
After a scoreless  first half, Turner made some wholesale changes that didn't pan out.
 “Our offense was almost non-existent, so I switched a couple of key players from their normal positions. North Branch exposed the weakness then set up on it for two goals in the second half,” said Turner. “We could have tied 0-0, but I hoped to get a bit of fire power into the offense. Hats off to North Branch, they out-coached, out-hustled and outplayed us.”
Thursday, the Hornets narrowly missed another win, settling for a 1-1 tie at Rockford.
Casey Tillman scored in the second minute on a cross from Samantha Harbeck. The game stayed that way until Rockford scored on a free kick in the 73rd minute to tie the game.
“This was the first time this team has ever played on a turf field. We looked fantastic. I am very proud of the way we played. Had we not given up a free kick in the danger zone in the last seven minutes, this could have been ours,” said Turner. “Kallie Nordberg and Avi McGregor looked like they had played together their entire life. Kalee Kitzman also played out of her mind, sealing up the defense. Give and go’s, triangle passing, through balls, this was a great way to play to end the season and head into sections. If all goes well, we should be seeded fourth in sections and look to host a couple of games in section finals.”
The Hornets finished the regular season at 5-9-1. Section play begins 5 p.m. Tuesday.


FIGHTING DESTRUCTIVE INSECTS. State plant health specialists Angie Ambourn, center, and Jennifer Dippel took part in a presentation on the emerald ash borer (EAB) in Elk River Monday morning. The state is partnering with the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in an effort to slow the spread of the insects, which include a survey in which volunteers look for increased woodpecker activity and other natural signs that could indicate an EAB infestation. (Photos by David Hannula)

JODI AND BEN BROWN volunteered to man the Minnesota Grown booth at the state fair last year.


ALL STATE ELITE gymnast Mallary Dick on beam.

The Big Lake 14 Elite volleyball team took third place in the President’s Day Festival Tournament, which incudes 64 schools from around the state. Team members are (front) Emily Zinken and Emma Pupeza. Standing are Kayla Ahrens, Haley Newhouse, Logan Miller, Sage Wuornos, Annika Poe, Megan Carlson, Makenzie Reiter, and Hailey Atwood. Not pictured is Alyssa Rezac. (Submitted photo).