The SPHS girls’ soccer Class of 2020. Front row: Cami Baker, defensive back, plans to attend the University of Minnesota to study psychology; Chloe Brown, offense, plans to attend the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs to study pre-medicine; Elise Strobel, midfield, plans to attend UW-Oshkosh; Lauren Plesac, midfield, plans to study biochemistry at the University of Minnesota and will hopefully go on to medical school to become a dermatologist; Ilirjana Zyteja, defensive back, plans to attend UW-La Crosse; and Hallie Wilkins, defensive back, plans to attend Edgewood College to continue playing soccer and study nursing. Back row: Kat Schuette, midfield, plans to play soccer and study business law and economics at UW-Whitewater; Ashley Fish, offense, plans to attend the University of Minnesota to major in Biology; Sydney Zander, goalie/defense, plans to attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to study nursing; Kelsey Roessler, offense, plans to attend the University of Minnesota to study sports management; and Olivia Zimmerman, midfield, plans to attend college at UW-Eau Claire.

This past February Sun Prairie girls’ soccer coach Matt Cleveland was looking forward to a great 2020 season. Open gyms were well-attended. The players were working hard to get ready for the season. However, by mid-March that all changed. Spring sport seasons were on hold, and anticipation turned to anxiety for the 11 returning seniors and their teammates.

Cleveland recalled the moment in April when schools closed for the rest of the year: “Poof, the season was gone,” he said, as the reality set in that there would not be a final walk on the pitch for the Class of 2020.

“In all of this, of course I feel the most for our seniors. It is hard enough for them to miss their final season wearing the Sun Prairie Cardinals jersey and playing for their community one more time, but also missing the final closure to high school in general,” Cleveland said. “I am proud of them and what they have achieved and earned, even though it was an unexpected ending.”

The Cardinal girls soccer boosters took to Facebook while the players themselves tweeted about the season that never was. A virtual player of the week feature replaced the celebratory Senior Night. Soccer memories were shared, with the overtime victory over Madison West to win the WIAA regional championship in 2018 a highlight for many.

The 2019 regional championship win over Oconomowoc was another highlight for the seniors. These Class of 2020 players were part of the reason the Sun Prairie girls soccer team began to achieve Division 1 state rankings in the top-10 for the first time in program history.

“There is no doubt in my mind that our 2020 seniors are stronger people because of it, though. They are all special people and will go off and do amazing things. I wish them all the best on their journey forward,” said Cleveland.

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