|Bluebirds Earn Comfortable Win Against Cooper|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands sophomore Maria Wiefering heads one home in Monday's 6-0 win over Cooper. Wiefering leads Highlands with 54 points on 22 goals and 10 assists this year.|
It's just that the wins have been a little too close for comfort. But that changed Monday. The Bluebirds (17-4-1 overall) dominated the Cooper Jaguars (14-9-1) from start to finish in a 6-0 victory.
Highlands takes on 34th District champion St. Henry in the region semifinals Wednesday at Dixie Heights at 7:30 p.m. Dixie Heights (15-5-3) faces Notre Dame (17-5-2) in the first game at 5:30 p.m. and the championship takes place Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Cooper made it to the 9th Region Tournament for the first time in school history. The Jaguars beat Conner, 4-3 in the 33rd District semifinals to advance to the region tournament before losing 3-0 to Ryle in the district championship game.
The win over Conner marked just the second postseason win in school history for Cooper. The other came in 2008 in what was the first season for the Jaguars. They beat Conner, 1-0 in a shoot-out in the first round of the old 17th District before losing 10-0 to St. Henry in the 17th semifinals that year.
Highlands edged St. Henry, 1-0 last year in the region quarterfinals and Boone County by the same score in 2014 at Tower Park. The Bluebirds beat Dixie Heights on the road, 2-0 in the 2015 9th Region quarterfinals.
"We had films on (the Jaguars on Sunday) and we ran through specific things we were working on," Wiefering said. "It was nice to see they were focused on doing these specific things from the beginning of the game. I think that they're thinking one game at a time."
Highlands outshot Cooper, 20-2 including 12-1 on goal. Highlands sophomore goalkeeper Maggie Hinegardner had to make just one save. That marked the 13th shut-out of the season for the Bluebirds.
"It felt really good," said Tatum Price, Highlands sophomore midfielder. "Our defense has been really good at keeping the ball up, making good runs and getting the ball up the field to our forwards."
The Bluebirds saw sophomore Maria Wiefering lead the way with two goals and an assist for five points. Junior Lindsey Meyer added two goals.
Maria Wiefering found fellow sophomore Maria Broering with about three minutes gone in the game for the only goal Highlands needed to win. That marked the 12th goal for Broering and 10th assist of the year for Maria Wiefering.
Maria Wiefering's goals came with 30:09 and 19:25 left in the first half. The second one came on a corner kick from Hanna Buecker. Maria Wiefering leads Highlands with 22 goals this year. She has 54 points on the season and Buecker has eight assists.
Up 3-0, the Highlands coaching staff began to pull the starters. That let the sophomores and freshmen who had been cheering on their teammates experience life in the 9th Region Tournament.
"Just being able to step on the field with all my teammates is amazing," said Katelynn Helminiak, Highlands sophomore defender. "I love playing with all of them. We all are very focused on goal and that's going as far in this tournament as we can."
Highlands added three more goals in the second half. Meyer's goals came with 35:54 and 27:03 left in the game. Meyer has 18 goals and 13 assists this season for 51 points.
The final Highlands goal came with 23:58 left in the game. Sophomore Parker Price booted a free kick into the net for her third goal this season.
All 9th Region Squad:
Meyer, Maria Wiefering and Lauren Deckert made the First Team All-Region squad. Kylie Stava made the second team and Sophie Steppe made the third team. Hinegardner made honorable mention.