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North Branch blanks Marysville, advances to district final WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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Marysville dominated in nearly every facet of the game in its District 27 semifinal with North Branch Thursday, except for the most important one.

The scoreboard.

The Broncos turned one flurry of transition in the 19th minute into the game’s only goal on the way to a 1-0 victory and a berth in Friday’s district final.

“The goal could’ve went either way; we were fortunate to come out on top with a win,” North Branch head coach Rick Skelton said. “I’m very proud of our girls. They played hard.”

After a counter attack resulted in a free kick, a deflected Savannah Orlando shot found its way into the back of the net — ending a stretch played largely in North Branch’s defensive third.

Skelton said his team’s unfamiliarity with the playing surface played a large role in the Broncos’ inability to sustain possession.

“They played the turf a whole lot better than we did,” Skelton said. “This is a whole different world to us.”

The goal seemed to galvanize the Broncos, who started to get involved in the mix at midfield. While its pace of play picked up, North Branch spent a bulk of the match looking to stifle Marysville’s attack through the middle.

“That’s high school ball,” Skelton said. “If I could get them to come out and start the game the same way they finished, I’d have everything I want.

“It’s nerves. They’re kids.”

Marysville had its share of quality chances throughout the game, but was never able to put the ball in the net —something Viking head coach Scott Parker said has been an issue all season long.

“We’ve kind of struggling with that all season — finishing,” Parker said. “We didn’t dominate anyone all season the way we did today.

“It’s heartbreaking that we didn’t win…but sometimes it rolls that way. I’m proud of the way the girls played.”

Marysville had a shot dribble wide of the net in the eighth minute in its best scoring chance of the first half. Christy Melton hit a crossbar from inside the 18-yard box in the 57th minute and Breanna Booth hit a crossbar off a free kick in the 74th minute.

“Even once they scored, we still felt we dominated the whole game,” Parker said. “They had a little pressure at the beginning of the second half, but we settled back in and took it to them.

“They got that lucky break; that’s soccer. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

North Branch and St. Clair will play for the district championship at Marysville at 6 p.m. Friday.

Last Updated: 6/1/2017 8:48:24 PM EST