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Harrisburg claims its first girls ‘AA’ soccer championship with win over Aberdeen Central

Harrisburg wins first girls soccer championship
Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Harrisburg wins first girls soccer championship

On a windy, Saturday afternoon, The Harrisburg Tigers defeated the Aberdeen Central Golden Eagles to claim their first ever ‘AA’ girls’ soccer state championship. Harrisburg won the match by the score of 2-1 at Titans Stadium in Tea.

Just seven minutes in, junior Ella Weide netted the first goal of the game for Harrisburg off of a redirected corner kick to give the Tigers the early lead.

Harrisburg controlled the ball much of the first half and thwarted any attempts the Golden Eagles had at scoring, but had little success in netting a second goal in the first period.

After some adjustments, Aberdeen Central maintained control of the ball early in the second half. A free kick nine minutes into the second period from the 35-yard mark deflected off of the crossbar, and Aberdeen Central’s Taryn Hettich controlled it and found the back of the net to tie up the contest.

Harrisburg returned to their first half form and continued to pepper shots at Aberdeen Central’s goalkeeper Ciara Frank with little success.

“I just told the girls to continue to relax and move the ball and they did a good job with that in the second half,” Harrisburg Head Coach Eric Christensen said.

Persistence paid off for the Tigers, as junior Hailee Christensen moved her way into the box and was awarded a penalty kick after getting fouled. With just 11 minutes remaining, Hailee Christensen found the back of the net with her penalty kick to regain the lead.

“The ball was rolling off the PK spot,” Hailee Christensen said. “I just tried to push it into the ground and see what the wind would do. I was really just thinking it was like practice.”

With three minutes remaining in the contest, Aberdeen Central had a chance on a corner kick to net a tying goal, but a save by Stella Litzen kept the Tigers in front. Hailee Christensen’s penalty kick was all the Tigers needed to claim the championship.

“It feels great,” Eric Christensen said. “You know, I just say I'm the captain of our little ship and try to put the girls in a great spot to find success. As I told them when I gave them the trophy, this is yours, not mine. I'm just the facilitator helping them get here. it's been a fun three years. And you know, we'll get back to work tomorrow.”

Injuries in the past seasons hindered Harrisburg’s chances at a title, but this was their year.

“I've been with these girls through thick and thin and I mean, it just feels really great,” Hailee Christensen said. “Me and another junior, Jaylee Hofer, we came back off an injury last year. And I mean, we all just had an amazing season. It takes all of us to win. And I mean, that's my team, and we worked so hard for it. It was just a really great gold medal type of feeling.”