St. Cloud Apollo hung on for a dramatic victory Tuesday afternoon.
The Eagles earned a 3-2 Central Lakes Conference win over Sartell.
Apollo was led by senior forward Sabina Babic, who tallied two goals, including the game-winner with 7:28 remaining in the second half. Senior forward Brooke Johnson also contributed for the Eagles with a goal and an assist.
Sartell took a 2-1 lead in the 18th minute of the second half, but late goals from Johnson and Babic gave Apollo the comeback victory.
“I don’t know what got into them,” Apollo head coach Namik Babic said. “They showed a lot of heart, and they deserve this.”
Apollo is coming off a disappointing 3-7-1 season and is looking to improve on that record this year. With two wins already in their first three games, it appears that the Eagles are heading on the right track.
“People do not think that we can do well,” Namik Babic said. “But we know that if we work hard like we did today, coming back from 2-1 in the second half like that, we will do well.”
Sartell was the early aggressor in the first half thanks to crisp passing and plenty of pace up front. Despite the pressure from the Sabres, the Apollo defense was uncrackable in the game’s early stages.
Apollo struck first midway through the first half with a goal from Sabina Babic and was assisted by senior Allie Powell. The goal gave the Eagles a 1-0 advantage and snatched the momentum away from Sartell.
The Sabres were able to hold off the Apollo attack, and with 3:26 left in the half, they were able to equalize by converting a penalty kick. Junior forward Sophia VanSurksum had dribbled the ball into the 18-yard box and was tripped. The referee did not hesitate in his decision and a penalty was given.
Junior midfielder Lauren Williams lined up to take the spot kick, but her shot was blocked by Apollo keeper Liz Lowery. The ball fell loose in the box after the initial block and VanSurksum was able to swoop in with the finish to give the Sabres the tying goal.
The Sabres came out aggressive again at the start of the second half. At the 22:54 mark of the second half, Sartell took the lead for the first time in the game.
Junior midfielder Caitlin Halupczok sent a ball into the box that was met by sophomore forward Greta Evavold, who touched the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net.
The Eagles continued to fight as the game went on. With 11:56 left, Brooke Johnson took a pass from senior midfielder Amanda Baloun and scored to make the it 2-2. With that goal, all the momentum was with Apollo.
Less than five minutes later, with 7:28 remaining, the Eagles took the lead for good. Brooke Johnson sent in a menacing cross from the right side of the box after making a strong run. Sabina Babic met the cross right in front of the goal and finished it to seal the victory.
The Sabres were not able to create any chances at the end of the game and showed signs of fatigue. Sartell head coach Joe Perske admitted that the loss was tough to swallow.
“This was our first game, and we were really flat,” he said. “We just weren’t ready to play soccer today. In this sport, momentum can change and we lost when the momentum counted the most.”