First half outburst propels Rangers to sectional finalOctober 10, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
BRETZVILLE — Finishes across sports take all sorts of forms.
There are quickstrike affairs where one side gets the upper hand and never looks back; there are also grinding affairs that turn into wars of attrition. The Forest Park girls soccer team opted for the former Thursday night and used an unyielding first-half onslaught to washout the South Spencer Rebels 7-0 in the Class 1A sectional semifinal.
Rangers (12-4-1) coach Brad Weyer planned for the team to come out with a fast and aggressive style of play to shake up the Rebels (7-7-1) early. He thought South Spencer would have a hard time recovering if Forest Park got out to a fast start.
“Top to bottom it was a team effort,” he said. “Our game plan was to press high early, create a lot of opportunities to finish. I’m real happy with the way we executed, especially in the first 20 minutes. We knew if we got up early on them we could potentially break them down and win it from the get go.”
Senior forward Emma Louden started the offensive with a high-arcing shot that sailed over senior goalkeeper Kira Bevins on its way to the net. Senior forward Denai Sicard followed up a few minutes later after splitting a pair of defenders for another score. The Rebels even added their own contribution to the Rangers’ cause, scoring in their own net as they tried to ward off a charge from Forest Park. Sophomore midfielder Abbie Jahn created a window to make her offensive contribution, and Sicard scored twice more before the half for the 6-0 Rangers' lead.
The Rebels' frustration throughout the game was obvious. Their attempts to move up the field were constantly disrupted by the Rangers' tenacious defenders. Any pushes that did find their way to the net were stopped cold by sophomore goalkeeper Madison Wathen. The Rebels started to express their discontent with rougher physical play as the game went on. Girls from both teams started to hit the deck whenever loose balls were contested, but the Rangers refused to be pushed around.
Sicard notched her fourth goal about five minutes into the second half to set the final result in stone, but that doesn’t mean the Rangers didn’t try for more scores before it was over. They kept pressing at the Rebels net, creating more opportunities that couldn’t find their way home. But that was inconsequential for the Rangers in the long run, as the dominant first-half start was all they needed to seal their spot in Saturday’s sectional final against the Evansville Day Eagles.
“We came out stronger than we usually had been, so that helped,” said senior forward Lauren Jahn. “After scoring in the first ten minutes we definitely got more confident in our play.”
“The first half we were unbelievable,” added Louden, who expressed the urgency the Rangers seniors feel about using their last few soccer games as their final push for glory. “Our energy was off the charts. Us seniors, we had success and we wanted to keep it up this year. We want to keep pushing because this is it. We have no more second chances, we’re done after this.”
Weyer shares their feelings, but also believes the iron will the Rangers have displayed over their first two sectional games will translate into Saturday's title tilt.
"We can't have any letdowns out of the gate," he said. "We have to play with heart, that's what it comes down to. That's all postseason play is, it's about who wants it more. These girls are hungry and humbled, so I think we're going to do great things these next couple days."
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