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Central girls blank Brookings in playoff opener

Aberdeen Central’s Madison Hochstetter (25) celebrates a goal on a corner kick with teammates Taryn Hettich (40), Makylie Miller, far right, Lauren Joosten, left and Deshani Peters (behind Joosten) during Tuesday night’s playoff game against Brookings at the Brownell Activities Complex. In the foreground at far left is Brookings’ goal keeper Ava Sandine (12). Photo by John Davis taken 10/4/2022

The Aberdeen Central girls’ soccer team defeated the Brookings Bobcats in style with a 5-0 victory to advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. The third-seeded Eagles were led by Kailyn Poppen who netted a hat trick in her first career playoff start Tuesday night at Brownell Activities Complex.

The Eagles brought the energy right from kickoff and registered a handful of chances in the opening minutes of play, including shots from Deshani Peters and Taryn Hettich.

Central controlled the possession early on and forced the game to be played in its attacking half of the field. Even on the occasions that the Eagles conceded possession, the intense pressure and timely interceptions from the midfield duo of Hettich and Makylie Miller won the ball back to restart the attack.

“We’ve talked about how we need to put the pressure on teams right away,” said Central coach Merle Aske. “We need to get into our rhythm and put our pressure on them to get our good looks and opportunities.”

Poppen started the Central scoring in the 17th minute on an assist from Peters. A minute later, Poppen provided an assist to Madison Hochstetter on a corner kick.

Five minutes later, Poppen scored her second of the night on a long-distance, right-footed effort from the edge of the left side of the penalty box that soared to the top corner of the back post.

“I think working with Deshani up top helps a lot,” said Poppen. “She always feeds me the right balls and we have good movement up top and we work well as a team.”

Even though Central slowed down offensively at the start of the second half, the Eagles remained stout on the back line and never allowed the Bobcats to mount a comeback.

Poppen earned her hat trick in the 65th minute of play when she engaged her defender one-on-one, cut back inside onto her right foot and fired a powerful shot into the near side of the goal. The junior captain scored or assisted on Central’s first four goals.

Aberdeen Central’s Kailyn Poppen, center, tries to head the ball as she bumps into Brookings’ Emmy Kjelden, right, during Tuesday’s playoff game at the Brownell Activities Complex. Photo by John Davis taken 10/4/2022

Abby Witte concluded Central’s scoring spree four minutes later on a long-distance effort from 35 yards away from goal.

The Eagles, 11-1-1 on the season, return to action this Saturday when they host Sioux Falls Jefferson at noon. Central drew with the Cavaliers 2-2 earlier this season.

“We should be able to put a lot of pressure on them again,” Aske said. “The biggest thing will be to get off to a good start again and get forward right away.”

Brookings 0 0 – 0
Aberdeen Central 3 2 – 5

First Half
1, AC, Kailyn Poppen (Deshani Peters) 17th minute; 2, AC, Madison Hochstetter (Poppen) 18th minute; 3, AC, Poppen 23rd minute.

Second Half
4, AC, Poppen (Peters) 65th minute; 5, AC, Abby Witte (Taryn Hettich) 69th minute.

Shots on Goal: Brookings 6; Aberdeen Central 19.

Goalies: Brookings, Ava Sandine (14 saves); Aberdeen Central, Ciara Frank (6 saves), Taylor Thorstenson (0 saves).

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