Girls soccer team moves to sectionals

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Belle Gallegos and Middleton's girls soccer team won a regional title last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

When it was over, they were completely exhausted.

The blazing sun, the terrific opponent and the pressure of their season coming to an end had left Middleton’s girls soccer team dog-tired. But the Cardinals were also extremely happy.

Middleton edged Verona, 3-2, in double overtime in a thrilling WIAA Division 1 regional final last Saturday. The top-seeded Cardinals advanced to a sectional final Thursday at 7 p.m., where they’ll host third-seeded Madison West at Firefighter’s Park.

“At the end of the game, I told the girls that it took every ounce of every person today to achieve that win and send our seniors to a happy graduation ceremony on Sunday,” Middleton coach Mary Duffy said. 

The teams were tied, 2-2, headed to overtime.

Middleton’s Lia Passini converted a penalty kick nine minutes into the first overtime to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. Macey Kalscheur earned the penalty kick after she dribbled behind the defense and was tackled in the box.

Duffy couldn’t watch what proved to be the game-winning shot, but the roar of the crowd told her everything she needed to know.

“Passini looked around to see that she was the one who wanted that kick,” Duffy said. “She was the one who wanted to put the game on her shoulders at that moment. She stepped up and shot and took the game.”

Middleton’s Maya Shea started the scoring with a goal in the seventh minute. Shea recovered a ball that was bobbled in the box, then fired it home to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

Verona tied the game just four minutes into the second half. But Middleton went back in front, 2-1, when senior forward Ari Viscara scored in the 65th minute.

“Ari Viscara has stepped it up coming into postseason and her last season as a Cardinal,” Duffy said. 

Verona wouldn’t go away, though, and got the equalizer in the 76th minute.

Middleton had several scoring chances in the final minutes of regulation, but couldn't convert.

“At the end of regulation, it was tied and my stomach churned,” Duffy said.

But Passini sent everyone home happy with her goal in the 99th minute.

Due to a new WIAA rule, though, the teams have to complete both 10-minute overtime periods. So the game still had 11 minutes remaining.

The Wildcats had several chances to stay alive, but Middleton keeper Belle Gallegos came up big.

“Verona had a few great opportunities to score and either Gallegos pulled the seeming goal out of the air at the last second or our defense came barreling through in the right moment to clear the ball to save us from going to penalty kicks,” Duffy said.

Afterwards, Duffy highlighted the play of forward/midfielder Mady Warda, midfielder Emily Krueger, Kalscheur and Viscara. And Duffy was thrilled her team lived to see another day.

“This was an epic battle,” Duffy said.

Things were much easier for Middleton in the regional semifinals, when it rolled past Janesville Parker, 8-0.

Junior forward Katya Boehnen and sophomore forward Tessa Grywalsky both scored a pair of goals. Middleton also got goals from Kalscheur, Warda, Shea and Shea Ruhly.

“It took us 20 minutes to put one of our 10 shots into the back of the net, but once we did, it was a flood of scoring,” Duffy said. “We struggled at first. I think it was nerves, knowing that we should win this game, knowing what losing games meant. We just struggled to connect shots on frame or passes that we normally make to the feet or space it belonged. 

“However once that goal went in and another followed and then another for the half, you could see them take a deep breath, get more relaxed and played really well the second half.”

Now, the Cardinals meet Madison West in the sectional semifinals Thursday. The Regents defeated the Cardinals, 2-1, last month.

If Middleton advances, it would host the winner of Kettle Moraine and Mukwonago on Saturday at 3 p.m.

“Wear your red to show your support of your Cardinals,” said Duffy, whose team is having a ‘Red Out’ Thursday. “Bring your friends, neighbors and neighbor’s friends. We will need the 12th man out there (against West).”

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