Just like in all sports, a good defense in soccer always can beat a good offense.
Defenders on the Monona Grove High School girls soccer team continually preached that to one another Saturday in the WIAA Division 2 regional championship game against Milton, and everything came together in a 7-0 win to put the Silver Eagles into the sectionals for the second time in three years.
The Silver Eagles defensive ringleader, senior goalie Sophia Wendt, who will continue her playing career at NCAA Division I Southeastern Louisiana, said the team kept the Red Hawks offense under lock and key even when MG jumped out to a comfortable lead.
“Since the first practice, we have focused on defense, and everyone on the field plays defense,” Wendt said. “We played great team defense and didn’t allow any serious shots on goal.”
Wendt, who played 80 minutes in net, and freshman Kailey Adamski combined to make five saves, as the Red Hawks were kept under control by accomplished defenders such as seniors Jensen Ruesch and Kyanna Weigel-Starr and junior Mady Davis-Troller.
Ruesch said talking to each other on the field also helped MG work as an efficient unit.
“The biggest thing for us was the communication part,” Ruesch said. “We were constantly communicating and stepping to the ball. We had the energy to believe in ourselves, and we did it.”
The game was scoreless until the 29th minute when Ashley Price tallied off an assist from Larissa Molstad. Eight minutes later, Gabi Arnold increased the lead to two goals, and then freshman Emma Dyer scored the first of her two goals in the 39th minute with Vanessa Giallombardo getting the helper.
The Silver Eagles continued to dominate the game in the second half despite some periodic rain showers that led to the opening of dozens of umbrellas in the stands. Molstad scored in the 54th minute off a pass from Price, and Dyer connected on her second goal in the 73rd minute off Arnold’s assist. Emma Goke scored twice in the final four minutes with Maelia Dziedzic getting the assist both times.
MG head coach Natasha Lippitt could detect the Red Hawks morale becoming more deflated as her team kept scoring.
“When we have the ability to play our game, we can do that to teams,” Lippitt said. “I told the kids based on our opponent, based on the weather, we have to take care of business right away. That’s going to take some air out of them.”
The Silver Eagles play their first-round sectional playoff game 7 p.m. today at Sauk Prairie, which won its regional with a 2-0 victory over Reedsburg.
Monona Grove did not play the Eagles during the regular season, but Lippitt said her team has been thinking about them a lot during the season.
“We’ve kept them on our radar, and we’ve been following them all year,” Lippitt said. “Anyone who is in this is deserving of being there, and we are ready for the challenge.”
MG 11, Beaver Dam 0
Dyer, Dziedzic, Giallombardo and Taylor Ruesch each tallied twice as the Silver Eagles did all its scoring in the first half against the Golden Beavers in the May 28 first-round regional game.
Dyer had three assists, and Dziedzic, Molstad and Davis-Troller each had two helpers as the game was called in the 60th minute due to the 10-goal rule. Also scoring goals were Arnold, Davis-Troller and Allison Gibbons.