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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rough Ending to Good Highlands Girls Soccer Season

St. Henry Upsets Highlands on Penalty Kicks

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Lindsey Meyer battles between two Cooper defenders in the 9th Region Quarterfinals. Highlands lost on penalty kicks to St. Henry in the region semifinals at Dixie Heights on Wednesday.
The Highlands Bluebirds girls soccer team hoped to use its speed once more to move on to the 9th Region title game.

But to earn another shot at the arch-rival and six-time region champion Notre Dame Pandas, Highlands had to take down the St. Henry Crusaders. St. Henry employed a strategy of pulling back seven defenders anytime Highlands dribbled into the attacking half of the field in the 9th Region semifinals Wednesday.

Even though both teams received 12 fouls each, Highlands could not find a way to put one in the back of the net. As a result, the scoreless tie went to penalty kicks after regulation and the customary two five-minute overtime sessions. St. Henry made two of its kicks to none for Highlands to pull off the 1-0 victory. One make came after the side judge ruled Highlands sophomore goalkeeper Maggie Hinegardner left the line before the shot even though that appeared to not be the case.

The toughest call that went against Highlands came with 12:07 left in the first half. Highlands appeared to have scored on a scramble in the box, but the side judge ruled the Bluebirds off-sides nullifying the goal. The Bluebirds had five off-sides calls to none for St. Henry (15-5).

"It was tough. Each time that I felt like we had a goal, an off-side call reversed that decision," said Brian Wiefering, Highlands Head Coach. "I felt like the hill got a little higher, a little steeper. It allowed St. Henry to pick up momentum. That happened like four or five times. Maybe it was a good call, maybe not. I think what happens now is we start panicking a bit. The other team is not really playing to score. They're just playing to play balls forward. We start playing their way. We continued to work hard. I thought we could still find a way to put one in, but we didn't."

Highlands (17-5-1) out-shot St. Henry, 19-6 including 5-4 on goal. Hinegardner stopped all four St. Henry shots.

Highlands received a couple free kicks just outside the 18-foot-box, but could not connect for the score. Several sailed high.

The loss marked the end of the careers for six seniors. They are forward/midfielder Molly Wiefering, defender Isabella Thomas, goalkeeper Olivia McQueary, forward Kaitlyn Meyer, midfielder Kylie Stava and defender Sophie Steppe. McQueary and Molly Wiefering were not able to play a lot this season because of injuries. The group helped Highlands to three 36th District championships.

Highlands can build around the likes of Hinegardner, Maria Wiefering, Lauren Deckert, Maria Broering and Lindsey Meyer next season.

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