Krueger nets hat trick, Cats win sectional

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Jasper senior forward Kara Krueger (right) battles with Vincennes Lincoln senior defender Ashlyn
Hillenbrand (left) for possession of the ball during the second half of Saturday afternoon's soccer game in Princeton. Krueger tallied a
hat trick in the Wildcats' 4-1 win.


PRINCETON — Kara Krueger does not know how many hat tricks she has scored in her soccer career. Although Krueger notched three more goals during Jasper’s (7-9-1) 4-1 victory over Vincennes Lincoln in the Sectional 30 championship, the senior forward quickly recognized her teammates’ efforts.  

“It’s an amazing feeling, to be able to win that,” Krueger said. “Especially in your senior year with all of your seniors. We won it my freshman year and junior year. It’s always different whenever you’re a senior. It could be your last chance.” 

Jasper sophomore midfielder Merin Buck got the Wildcats’ scoring started with a goal at the 34:12 mark of the first half. With 31:46 remaining in the period, Krueger tallied her first goal off a cross from sophomore forward Reagan Fortwendel. 

“Our wings would start making those cuts straight to the middle of the goal and the back of the goal,” Krueger said. “I could play that ball across. They would do the same for me, depending on the position we were in. We could get those balls behind the defense. This field is a lot shorter than ours, and we had to make some adjustments on those passes. It all worked out in our favor, I think. We figured it out.”  

Because the Wildcats earned a 3-0 victory over Pike Central on Thursday evening, Krueger and the squad felt more comfortable on the Princeton pitch during Saturday’s matinee.

“You try to make connecting passes more,” she said. “You play it more to the feet. Those through balls don’t work as much. The field is a lot shorter. They would just run out too long.” 

The Wildcats entered halftime with a 2-0 lead. With 28:41 to play in the second half, Krueger knocked in her second goal of the afternoon. 

Lincoln junior forward Sierra Mullins posted the Alices’ lone score with 23:35 remaining in the game, but Jasper remained in control. Krueger put her stamp on the action with just 4:06 to play. 

She weaved through the Lincoln defense and fired one last shot into the back of the net. The goal was business as usual for Krueger, but that final score all but prevented any hopes of a comeback. 

“You saw it today,” Jasper head coach Michael Donato said. “Every girl stepped it up individually. While defending, they were running through the ball as opposed to letting the ball get to their foot and then trying to react to it. They did a really nice job.” 

As the Wildcats hoisted the sectional trophy, Donato highlighted the squad’s improvement throughout the season. 

“They’ve been getting better and better all year,” he said. “With the way they’ve been possessing the ball and working it around, I told them, ‘Just play the way that you’ve been playing.’ They did that. It started tiring down Vincennes’ defense a little bit.”

Jasper will return to play Oct. 17 in the opening round of the Jasper regional against Heritage Hills, a team that beat Jasper, 3-0, Sept. 15. The winner of that game will play either Northview or Silver Creek in the regional championship. 

“I’m proud of them,” Donato said. “I’m happy for them. It’s a great group of girls. I love seeing them hold that trophy.”

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