Girls soccer team wins regional title

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Rob Reischel
Middleton's Emily Reisleger (8) and Danielle Martin (6) battle for a loose ball in the regional finals./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton senior Taylor Rough had never attempted a corner kick prior until late this season. But Rough, a senior defender for Middleton’s girls’ soccer team, decided she would give corner kicks a try during a recent practice.

“We just had her kick a few in practice and thought ‘whoa, those look good,’” said Middleton head coach Mary Duffy. “So she kicked a couple in the game (Saturday).”

The move panned out pretty well for the Cardinals.  

Two of Rough’s corner kicks led to goals last Saturday and helped lead the second-seeded Cardinals past 10th-seeded Madison West, 2-0, in a WIAA Division 1 regional final at Breitenbach Stadium in Middleton.

Middleton improved to 11-3-4 on the year while West finished the season 9-8-2. 

Middleton will face third-seeded Sun Prairie on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a sectional semifinal at Breitenbach Stadium in Middleton. The winner advances to Saturday’s sectional finals against either top-seeded Waunakee or fifth-seeded Kettle Moraine. That game is currently scheduled for 7 p.m. in Kettle Moraine.

“We’ve struggled scoring against West in the past, so I was a little nervous we were going to go into a tie,” Duffy said. “I think the girls had a lot of energy in the second half, even after coming off of the lightning delay. I love that it was set pieces that put us ahead when we’ve been struggling with those all year. It was great to see our seniors connect on that last goal.”

Rough was instrumental in the set pieces described by Duffy, as it was two of her corner kicks that resulted in goals. Middleton attempted seven corner kicks to one for West in all. 

“I’ve actually never taken corners before. I just started this week in practice,” Rough said with a laugh. “They told me to go up and kick, so I did and just tried to get the balls in a good position. I just aimed for the six (position) and hoped one of my teammates could get to it.”

Middleton defeated Beloit Memorial/Turner in the regional semifinal 5-0 with a barrage of 33 shots on goal, and continued their strong shooting by putting up 14 shots on goal against West. West finished with zero shots on goal and Middleton outshot West, 27-1 overall. 

Middleton attempted 16 shots in the first half, six on goal. The Cardinals hit two off the crossbar and West goalkeeper Lissy Kettleson had three fantastic saves to keep Middleton off the board. The score was 0-0 at halftime.

“It’s frustrating when the shots aren’t dropping because we had so many shots and were working so hard,” Rough said. “Every time we got so close they would just get away from us, and (Kettleson) made some great saves.”

The second half featured a 30-minute lightning delay at the 50:47 mark. The stadium was emptied and both teams were sent inside in a 0-0 game.

The teams returned and Middleton’s first goal came a bit later at the 68:27 mark, on its fifth corner kick of the game. Rough set up on the far side of the field and booted the free kick into a mass of players at the net. Senior Dani Martin tapped the loose ball rebound just over the line and past Kettleson to give Middleton a 1-0 lead.

“Once that first goal when in, it was such a sigh of relief. Our biggest dread was that it would go to 0-0 with them again,” said Duffy, referencing Middleton’s game earlier in the season against West that ended in a 0-0 tie. “Once that first one went in, I think everyone thought ‘OK, we can breathe again, but let’s get another so we can breathe even easier.’ ”

The Cardinals were able to breathe a bit easier as their second goal came at 75:53 on another Rough corner kick. Rough was on the near side of the field and struck a ball that curved perfectly through the defense and onto the foot of wide-open senior Caitlynn Owens. Owens struck a solid ball into the back of the net and lifted Middleton to a 2-0 advantage.

“What a beautiful goal,” Duffy said. “I was surprised (Owens) was that wide-open and it was a nice easy, lovely tap-in.”

West had a different looking lineup than the first time they faced Middleton this season, with at least five players out with injury. The game earlier in the season ended in a 0-0 tie, with West missing two wide open looks at goal in that game. 

“West as a 10-seed beat (Janesville) Craig — which is a fantastic team — and at the end of their season they beat Brookfield Central, and in fact they tossed a lot of teams around,” Duffy said. “They did fantastic with that injured roster and were maybe better than a 10-seed.”

The win lifted Middleton to its second consecutive regional championship.

“It’s very exciting to be regional champs again. We struggled in the beginning so it’s exciting for our hard work to pay off,” Rough said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs this season, so it’s very rewarding to see our hard work pay off.”

Duffy knows the Cardinals are a talented team, but has taken nothing for granted as they move on in the playoffs.

“After regional semifinals, (the regional final) is hard because you’re probably playing someone within the Big Eight, which is a good team. As talented as our team is, this game was not a guarantee,” Duffy said. “We had to actually put the talent on the board, which they did today. It’s nice to know we’re moving on as a reflection of their talent and hard work. All the time in practice they are putting in is reflecting in the postseason right now.”


June 1

WIAA regional final

At Breitenbach Stadium

Middleton 2, Madison West 0

West …………..... 0  0 — 0

Middleton ……… 0  2 — 2


Second half

MID — Martin, 68:27

MID — Owens (Rough) 75:53

Shots: MID — 27, MW — 1. SOG: MID — 14, MW — 0 Saves: MID — 0, MW — 12 Fouls: MID — 8, MW — 4. Corner kicks: MID 7, MW 1.


May 30

WIAA regional semifinal

Middleton 5, Beloit Memorial/Turner 0

Beloit Memorial/Turner..... 0 0 — 0

Middleton.......................... 3 2 — 5

First half: M — Martin (Zacher), 5:44; Martin, 17:02; Schuster (Gonter), 33:47.

Second half: M — Kowalski (Bunz), 51:38; Bunz (Kowalski), 64:48.

Saves: BMT (Drucker) 28, M (Gehrke) 1.



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