Everything went according to plan for the Wildkats soccer team Saturday as they cruised past Stevensville in the opening round of the Class A soccer playoffs, 3-0.
Senior Josie Windauer added to her season and career school records with two more goals while sophomore Maddie Robison tied the school’s single season assist mark with her 15th. Robison is already the school’s career leader in assists with 25 in her first two seasons.
Cheyanne Johnston-Heinz scored the game’s other goal on an assist by Windauer.
“You never know how you are going to react to a playoff game and if you don’t play your best, your season is over. So, all the credit to the girls for coming out and executing our game plan,” head coach Thomas Clark said. “Everyone brought their A-game, and that is what you need in the playoffs.”
After locking into a battle with a tough defensive Stevensville squad in the game’s opening minutes, Clark made a series of adjustments, moving several players around to open up the field for his attackers. After moving to the wing, Windauer scored the game’s first goal at the 11:00 mark and found Johnston-Heinz for another at 23:00.
“They were well coached and defensively stout. They had two great defenders in the back that made things hard on our attackers. We made some adjustments and were able to get the win,” Clark said. “Any time you can move your best player away from their best player, it is usually a good move. We just tinkered with things a little bit and it really opened things up for us.”
Windauer scored the game’s final goal at the 57:00 mark on an assist from Robison.
For the Kats’ defense, it was another stellar defensive performance as Flora Jarvis, Lexi Purcell, Graceanne Sevesind and Kate Hatfield held the Yellowjackets to just four shots on goal, all of which were saved by keeper Ave McDonald.
“People always talk about our offense, but I think the reason we really have a shot at state is our defense,” Clark said. “We really stepped up to keep their chances and limited and when they did get shots, Ave was able to make some great saves.”
With the win, the Kats advance to face Laurel in the state semi final at home Friday at Flip Darling Memorial Field at 4 p.m. It will be a rematch of last year’s state semifinal, which Laurel won 2-1. The Kats handed the Locomotives their first loss of this season, beating them 2-1 in Laurel Sept. 21.
“Laurel is one of the most dangerous teams in the state, if not the most dangerous. They have the Maack sisters (Morgan and Mya) who are both goal scorers and facilitators and we will have to adjust our tactics to counter them,” Clark said about the matchup. “We handed them their first loss of the season, so we know they will be looking for revenge, but we are also looking to avenge our loss to them in the playoffs last year. It’s going to be personal for them and it is going to be personal for us. It’s going to be a battle.”’