Soccer Cardinals jump up to No. 5

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel

The Big Eight promises to be one of deepest, most competitive girls soccer conferences in the state this season. And Middleton survived a tough stretch of games last week.

The Cardinals defeated rival Madison West, 1-0, last Tuesday. Middleton also tied Janesville Craig, 2-2, last Thursday.

The Cardinals then played three games at the Tournament of Champions in Burlington, Iowa last weekend, going 0-1-2 in those.

Middleton is now 3-1-3 and ranked No. 5 in the state.

Middleton’s win over Madison West was definitely the highlight of the week. Lexi Schultz scored in the 31st minute on an assist from Tyler Wilson for the game’s only goal.

“This game is always a tough game because of our past histories of knocking each other out of the postseason,” Middleton coach Mary Duffy said. “And this game didn’t disappoint the crowd looking for a good game of soccer.

“It was a back and forth game with one team dominating for a bit and then the other would take over.”

West dominated at the outset, but the Cardinals held off the Regents’ charge. Middleton then control in the middle portion of the game.

On the Cardinals’ goal, Middleton’s forwards attacked and Wilson drew the attention of the keeper. Wilson then fed a wide-open Schulz, who converted from five yards out.

Middleton keeper Caroline Powers had a tremendous match with five saves, including a couple of the highlight variety.

In the first half, West had a breakaway that Powers stopped with her feet. Moments later, with West back on the attack, Powers gathered the Regents’ rebound attempt.

In the second half, West had undefended shot at the top of the box following a corner kick. Powers sprung for a full out dive and tipped the ball out of danger at the last second. 

“The shot looked like a goal from our angle and West was already celebrating,” Duffy said. “Powers came out of nowhere to end that charge. Even the West coach gave a ‘great save’ to our coaches immediately after it occurred.”

Two nights later, Middleton and Janesville Craig played to a 2-2 tie. The Cardinals led, 2-1, but the Cougars scored the equalizer in the 65th minute.

“Even though we tied, it kind of felt like a loss,” Duffy said. “We didn't come out strong in the first half and Craig came out poised, organized and disciplined. We looked flat-footed and with Craig's speed up top, it was a lot of running back.”

Craig led, 1-0, at halftime. But Middleton’s Caitylnn Owens scored in the 51st and 58th minutes on assists from Victoria Bunz.

But the Cougars got the equalizer in the 65th minute.

“We stopped most of Craig's second half attack,” Duffy said. “However, Craig was able to sneak one more goal in before the end of the game to tie it up.”

The Cardinals then headed to the Tournament of Champions in Burlington, Iowa. In Middleton’s first game, it tied Lee Summit (Mo.), 1-1.

“The conditions were great and even after a four-hour bus ride, the girls were ready to play,” Duffy said. “We started well, which was a problem in the West and Craig games. 

“The defense did a great job slowing their attack. We were strong in the air, cutting off angles and we looked to spread the offense on the wing space to move the ball up together as a team.”

The Cardinals did all of that and took a 1-0 lead when Emily Raisleger scored off a free kick from 35 yards out of the box.

“From the second half of the Craig game on, Raisleger had a great weekend,” Duffy said. “She dominated the central midfield and defense and helped with three out of the four goals we scored this weekend.”

Emily Gehrke played well in her first game in goal this season. But Lee Summit got the tying goal in the second half.

“I enjoy this tourney for the competition, the team bonding opportunities, but also it gives our large bench a chance to play and show their skills,” Duffy said. “And this is what we were able to accomplish. Some of the new players to the team really stepped up this tournament and played well from defense to forward.”

Middleton followed with a 1-1 tie vs. Dunlap (Ill.).

Dunlap scored early in the second half and held onto that lead through most of the game. 

Middleton dominated the game, but simply couldn’t finish. Finally, the Cardinals got the equalizer when Anna Mintz converted from 25 yards out over the keeper's hands.

In all, the Cardinals had a bevy of solid performances. 

“Gehrke made an amazing second half save to tip the ball in a swirling wind to hit the cross bar and then for a diving save to smother the ball so there was no second chance shot,” Duffy said. “Emma Schuster and Lauren Hafeman had great games on the outside wing space, and at one point, swept the ball off the goal line when Gehrke came out to block a breakaway that unluckily rebounded off a player and back towards our net.”

On Saturday, Middleton dropped a 4-2 decision to Batavia (Ill). It was the Cardinals’ fourth game in 48 hours and it showed.

“We were a bit tired and banged up,” Duffy said. “But we had some good moments to draw upon. Again, the large bench came in handy with fresh legs.”

Danielle Martin notched Middleton’s first goal with a header off a Raisleger free kick. And Schultz added a header flick goal off a second half Raisleger free kick, as well. 

However, the Cardinals allowed a season-high four goals and suffered their first loss.

“It was a solid showing for the team,” Duffy said.

 

April 24

Middleton 1, Madison West 0

Madison West ………… 0 0 — 0

Middleton ………………. 1 0 — 1

First half: M — Schultz (Wilson), 30:33.

Saves: MW (Kittleson) 5, M (Powers) 5.

 

April 26

Middleton 2, Janesville Craig 2

Janesville Craig …………. 1 1 — 2

Middleton ……….………… 0 2 — 2

First half: JC — Dare (King), 38:07.

Second half: M — Owens (Bunz), 50:23; Owens (Bunz), 57:31. JC — King (Dare), 64:51.

Saves: JC (Rowekamp 3, Schrader 2) 5, M (Powers) 2.

 

 

 

 

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