After losing at the regional final level the previous three seasons, the DeForest girls soccer team was out to prove it could take the next step.
The fourth-seeded Norskies opened the WIAA Division 2 postseason with a dominate 7-0 victory over 13th-seeded Tomah on May 28.
“In the Tomah game, we continued our aggressive play that we carried over from the Sun Prairie and Sugar River games,” Norski coach Tim Esser said. “We were able to spread minutes across our entire roster and got seven goals from seven different players which showed what a balanced team we are.”
Last Saturday, the Lady Norskies hosted fifth-seeded Burlington in the regional final. The teams played to a 1-1 tie in regulation and overtime, but DeForest advanced to the its first sectional since 2015 after winning a shootout 6-5.
“The Burlington game was back and forth up until we scored the equalizer in the 65th minute,” Esser said. “From that point forward, including overtime, we felt like the game was really controlled by us but just couldn’t put one away. The shootout was nerve racking, but I really felt like we had done the preparation the entire week to prepare us for penalty kicks. I can’t say enough about what a team effort it took to win this game. This is a very special team.”
The Lady Norskies will play at top-seeded Oregon in the sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. tonight. The Panthers beat the Norskies in the sectional semifinals in both 2014 and 2015.
Monona Grove and Sauk Prairie are playing in the other semifinal. The sectional championship is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday in Elkhorn.
The Lady Norskies set the tone with four first-half goals.
DeForest broke through with a goal by Guadalupe Zaragoza 24 minutes, 46 seconds into the game. Cheyenne Hemauer had the assist.
The Norskies got a goal from Addy Conaway two minutes later. Maya Pickhardt had the assist.
The lead grew to 3-0 at the 38:03 mark when Mandy Fitzgerald scored off an assist by Conaway.
The Lady Norskies added a goal from Jessica Camarato before the first half came to an end. Conaway had her second assist of the half.
Pickhardt garnered her second goal of the game 3:41 into the second half.
Lexi Kulow upped the lead to 6-0 with a goal off an assist by Zaragoza at the 61:54 mark.
Hemauer closed out the scoring for DeForest. She scored off an assist by Conaway.
Lynzy Schnell and Ingrid Heitmann split time in goal for the Norskies and each had one save.
The regional final was a battle from the start. The game was scoreless at halftime.
Burlington got on the scoreboard first with a goal by Gracie Geyso 11:40 into the second half.
DeForest tied the game 10 minutes later on a goal by Hemauer.
After two scoreless overtime periods, the game went into a shootout.
The Norskies fell behind 1-0 in the first round of the shootout. Both teams scored in the second round, with Zaragoza scoring for DeForest.
Burlington still led by a goal after both teams scored in the third round. Lydia Webster scored for the Norskies.
DeForest tied it up in the fourth round after a goal by Claudia Tisch.
Both teams scored in the fifth round. The Norskies got a goal from Mandy Fitzgerald.
After Burlington failed to score to open the sixth round, DeForest earned the win with a goal by Leah Doucette.
Schnell finished the game with seven saves.