Ranger girls advance to regional championship

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Forest Park’s girls celebrate after a goal Wednesday in the regional semifinal at South Knox. The Rangers won, 2-0, and are scheduled to play Saturday against host Providence in their bid of a second straight regional championship.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

VINCENNES - Forest Park's girls will have the chance to win their second straight regional championship on Saturday.

The Class 1A-No. 3 Rangers (19-1) didn't waste much time in getting on the board in Wednesday's 2-0 regional semifinal win at South Knox. Forest Park dominated possessions in its offensive zone for much of the way, and senior midfielder Emma Grundhoefer's kick placed the ball in the back of the net, and the Rangers held a 1-0 lead with 37:18 remaining in the opening half.

"We were fresher, we were more relaxed and we just kind of slowed things down and we took a deep breath and we just played our style," Rangers coach Brad Weyer said. "That allowed us to get that early goal."

That was technically all it needed, but Forest Park kept pushing, and 10 minutes later, Spartans junior keeper Jayda Millspaugh came slightly out of the net, and senior mid/forward Abi Jahn did a spin move and added an insurance goal for the Rangers. They took a 2-0 lead with 27:13 left and brought the game to its final score.

Jahn's move led Weyer to want to watch that again on film.

"That's not something you practice, but she's a very talented athlete and you expect great things out of her," he said.

The Rangers couldn't add on the rest of the way, but still tried to make something happen. They had a couple of corner kicks in the first half that they couldn't get to go in, and sophomore mid/forward Allison Wahl made a push on the net in the final seconds, but couldn't get it past Millspaugh.

The second half featured Forest Park having some close calls, as Jahn nearly had her second goal of the game from a ball that just sailed over the net with approximately 25 minutes remaining in the game. The Rangers again had some corners, and a header off a free kick didn't miss by much. Millspaugh also made a diving stop off a shot on net by freshman forward Maggie Kerber.

Their defense held the Spartans at bay, and senior keeper Madison Wathen got some, but not a lot of work.

"That's credit to our defense," Weyer said. "They got another clean sheet on the books, they played phenomenal for about 60 minutes. There was a couple periods in there - 10-15 minutes here or there where they weren't communicating well, they weren't in their right spots and they were doing some uncharacteristic things. And that's just nerves, but they settled in and they finished out with another shutout."

The regional has changed this year, with the semifinals being played during the week and the championship game on Saturday instead of two Saturday games last year. Weyer appreciates getting some time off in between the two games and being ready to play with fresh legs Saturday.

Forest Park is scheduled to meet host Providence for the regional championship. The Pioneers were tied, 1-1, with Switzerland County after overtime on Wednesday, but won, 3-1, on penalty kicks.

"We may have a couple girls with some knocks on them - so just healing tomorrow, getting in the weight room, maintaining our strength and fitness, getting a few miles in," he said. "And then Friday, we'll get back on the training ground, tighten up a few things, work on a few things, but overall, we're just enjoying this, the next couple days and look forward to Saturday."




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