Jasper girls to play Northview WednesdayOctober 11, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER - Jasper girls soccer once again did not have the greatest regular season in 2021, but that's not what's important at the end of the day.
The Wildcats (7-10) stepped it up this past week to claim their third straight sectional championship, and their fourth in the last five seasons. Jasper came away with a 5-2 win against rival Vincennes Lincoln in Saturday's Sectional 30 championship game.
Jasper coach Michael Donato pointed out to The Herald after the team's 2-1 semifinal win against Washington on Thursday that the regular season does not matter - that a team could lose every game in the regular season and still win the state championship.
Junior forward Reagan Fortwendel, who had a hat trick in Saturday's game against the Alices, said the regular season was just practice for this time of year.
"Sectional week's when we really bring it on," Fortwendel said. "We practice hard and we just get ready to play."
"You get to the point here where this could be the end of the season," Donato said. "And you have the girls that really realize this may be the last time they play soccer, and they tend to step up, and they get their mind focused on it - they do what they need to do."
Such a mindset has them once again playing for the opportunity to win a regional championship, with the semifinal coming on Wednesday at Northview. The Wildcats made it to the regional title game last year, but lost to Silver Creek, 1-0. They last won a regional in 2007.
However, the team still has stuff that they need to work on. Donato pulled senior keeper Maggie Hubster and replaced her with sophomore Laine Mullins on Saturday after the Wildcats built a 5-0 lead to put the running clock into effect. The Alices scored a couple of goals afterward, but Donato didn't blame Mullins because he felt the team's defending fell apart.
He said that regardless of what the score is, the team still has to play like it's 0-0, but the Wildcats don't necessarily have to do something in practice this week to address that.
"What happened tonight was it was all mental," he said. "We just started dropping towards the end. We were up by enough goals and we just kind of relaxed a little bit - and that's when it falls apart."
Yet, he still thinks the mental toughness is there because the Wildcats proved that in their win against the Hatchets. However, he said that Jasper has to keep it, even when it's ahead, because they want opposing teams to play up to them.
Donato said practice this week would contain possession-type activities, and the team would continue to work on their finishing.
He noted that to come away with a win on Wednesday, it's more than just sustaining mental toughness, but also keeping everybody healthy up to that point.
"We got some people that are sore," Donato said. "Still, going into this game, we had some people coming off of injuries - which we'd like to get them in good enough shape where they can actually get some playing time out there."
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