Story Matters

Story Matters

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Surviving the Danger Game

Highlands nips St. Henry, 1-0 to advance in 9th Region Tournament

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands sophomore Lindsey Meyer (10) tries for a header in the 9th Region quarterfinal game against St. Henry at Tower Park on Monday. Highlands won 1-0 to advance to the region semifinals for the fourth straight year. 
Head Coach Brian Weifering had legitimate concerns about this game.

The 36th District champion Highlands Ladybirds soccer team (19-2-1 overall) played host to the 34th District runner-up St. Henry Lady Crusaders (8-11-2) in the 9th Region quarterfinals at Tower Park after beating the visitors twice during the regular season. Highlands took down St. Henry, 3-0 on Aug. 25 and Sept. 26 both at Tower Park.

Teams can develop a false sense of security with results like that in a third meeting. St. Henry gave Highlands a tough game like Weifering expected, but the Ladybirds clawed out a 1-0 victory to advance to the 9th Region semifinals for the fourth straight year.

"It comes down to playing simple," Wiefering said. "They were looking and seeing people wide-open then deciding to try and make some spectacular pass and thread the needle up the middle. I don't know why they were doing it. But they'll see it on film. It's good to get this one out of the way. Hopefully, they learned a lesson."

Highlands will take on Boone County (16-4-3) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday back at Tower Park. Boone County beat Covington Holy Cross, 4-0 in the 9th Region quarterfinals. The teams did not meet in the regular season.

The only goal of the game came with 16:38 left in the first half. Freshman Maria Broering found the leading goal-scorer in fellow freshman Ali Gessner at the top of the attacking box. Gessner moved to her right and fired a shot toward the upper left part of the goal where St. Henry sophomore goalkeeper Cori Riegler could not stop it.

That marked the team-high 14th goal of the season for Gessner and the third assist for Broering. Gessner also has nine assists to make up the other part of her team-high 37 points on the season. Broering also has one goal on the season for a total of five points.

"Thank goodness for that shot," Wiefering said. "(Gessner) had a head ball that went off the post. We had four girls stand and just watch it. That's not how our girls play. I think it's very evident that they were looking beyond this team."

Highlands had plenty of chances to increase the lead out-shooting St. Henry, 18-1 including 12-1 on goal. But Riegler had a great game making 10 saves for the Lady Crusaders.

On the other side, Highlands junior goalkeeper Olivia McQueary had to make just one save playing the entire game. This marked the 18th shut-out of the season for Highlands. The Ladybirds have now outscored opponents by an astounding 87-7 on the season.

"No matter what. We give 110 percent," said Claudia Hils, Highlands senior. "That's what we're working on the most this year. We're doing a great job with defense starting with our forwards all the way through our goalie Olivia McQueary. She's doing a great job getting everyone motivated and pumped up."

St. Henry had one player with double-digit goals on the season. That was senior forward Ally Maher with 11.

Highlands did a great job clearing balls all over the field. The midfielders also won a lot of 50-50 goals setting up numerous scoring opportunities. Highlands had eight corner kicks to none for St. Henry.

"We just want to make sure someone is on the ball and someone is covering (opposing players) at all times no matter what," said Sophie Steppe, Highlands junior. "Even if we make a mistake, there's someone to clear it in the back."

The Ladybirds had a chance to go up 2-0 minutes after Gessner's goal twice. Aside from Gessner's header, sophomore Lindsey Meyer drew a free kick up top. But Riegler blocked her shot toward the upper left part of the goal over the top post.

The Lady Crusaders drew a free kick with 26:56 left in the second half. But Highlands cleared the kick off the foot of senior Sydney Auteri.

Both teams had one offside penalty. St. Henry drew nine fouls to seven for Highlands. But neither team had a yellow or red card.

Highlands has not faced Boone County on the field since a 1-0 victory at Tower Park in the 9th Region quarterfinals on Oct. 20, 2014. The Lady Rebels forfeited the game against the Ladybirds, 1-0 last year.

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