Soccer Cardinals share Big 8 crown

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel

The roster was greatly overhauled.

There were 12 new players, positional changes, and tactical adjustments.

Despite all of that change, one thing remained the same for Middleton’s girls’ soccer team this spring: success.

The Cardinals notched a pair of wins last week and clinched a share of their second straight Big Eight Conference title.

Middleton and Madison Memorial both went 8-1 in the league and finished ½-game ahead of third place Madison West.

“Last year we had experience, this year we have fire,” said Middleton junior standout Grace Douglas, a University of Wisconsin recruit. “Winning the Big Eight title again this year really brought out the importance of the game itself.

“On any given night any team can win. And this year we’re especially glad to show everyone that there are a variety of different teams that can achieve this kind of greatness.”

Middleton coach Mary Duffy was extremely proud of what her team accomplished.

“Every year I am amazed at the quality of not only athletes and academics that Middleton produces, but just the well-rounded individual that puts every ounce into a team goal and their teammates personally,” Duffy said. “Middleton's community, school and parents are pretty amazing and help contribute to the seniors that I can consistently count on to drive the end of the season.”

These Cardinals drove to a title last week.

Middleton began the week with a 1-1 non-conference tie with mighty Waunakee last Monday.

The Cardinals then notched two huge Big Eight wins — a 10-0 blanking of Beloit Memorial on Tuesday and a 5-0 victory over Janesville Craig on Thursday — to capture the league title.

Waunakee took an early 1-0 lead on Middleton. But the Cardinals dominated the rest of the night.

“We took the ball to them,” Duffy said. “We knocked over and over at the goal.”

Finally, the Cardinals got the equalizer from Ari Viscara late in the second half.

“While we were left with a 1-1 tie, we looked optimistic at the play,” Duffy said.

Things looked even better the rest of the week.

Middleton had several standout performances in its win over Beloit Memorial.

Tessa Grywalsky, a sophomore forward, had three goals. Nora Edelen had two goals and two assists, Macey Kalscheur had two goals and Viscara had three assists.

“I kept reminding the girls that this week, we had a job to do,” Duffy said. “We needed to take care of business.

“While we had lots of scoring power and converted a little over 40% of our shots on goal, our defense has done a better job of putting pressure on around the mid-circle and cutting off their attack early. There is more communication and decisiveness in the back.”

The Cardinals followed that with an impressive win over Janesville Craig on Senior Night.

“Our 12 seniors are such a huge part of the team, not only numerically by being 50% of our team, but their leadership, passion for the game and for their teammates,” Duffy said. “The underclassmen have some excellent role models to look up to.

“Even as the seniors' end of high school careers are winding down, it is those 12 seniors who are pushing at practice and help glue us together as a team. I couldn't ask for a better bunch of seniors to lead this 2015 team.”

In Middleton’s win over Craig, it got goals from Viscara, Edelen, Megan Sullivan, Grywalsky and Shea Ruhly and cruised.

“Once again, our defense was dominant and squashed all attempts by Craig, who had some nice outside forwards,” Duffy said.

The Cardinals now have high hopes this postseason.

The playoff seeding meeting was Wednesday night, and the playoffs start next week. The regional semifinals are June 4 and the regional finals are June 6.

Sectionals are then June 11 and 13 and the state tournament is June 18-20.

“The postseason will be interesting,” Douglas said. “The Big Eight is an accumulation of strong teams that put up a fight every game. I think our chances in the postseason are great. We have the fire, the energy, and the preparation to make this postseason into something.

“I think we are more prepared for the postseason this year than last year because of how close we know the competition is. We won't be taking anything for granted. We know our strengths and our weaknesses, and we know that on any given night, we can win.”

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