Ranger girls make history with regional win

 

Photo by Leann Burke/For the Herald
Forest Park junior Payton Dilger accepts the regional championship hardware from athletic director Doug Louden. The Rangers beat Trinity Lutheran, 2-0, for their first girls soccer regional championship in history. 

By LEANN BURKE
For The Herald

BRETZVILLE — The Forest Park Rangers (13-5) made history twice Saturday — once in the morning as the first girls soccer team in school history to play in a regional championship, then in the evening as the first to win one. 

“It’s crazy,” senior defender Ava Hamilton said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year, so to win this year is just crazy.” 

The Rangers shut out their opponents in the finals, defeating the Trinity Lutheran Cougars 2-0.

“It was just an incredible day of soccer,” Weyer said.

The Rangers played an aggressive game against the Cougars, often holding possession of the ball and running the Cougars’ defense ragged as they took several shots on goal in the first half. Freshman Addie Weyer scored the first goal of the game 15 minutes into the first half. The Rangers sustained that energy as the game progressed.

The aggressive play is a signature of the Rangers’ style. Weyer often tells his players the first five minutes of any half, as well as the first five minutes after scoring or being scored on, are crucial. It’s always the Rangers’ goal to score in those windows. 

In the second half of the finals Saturday night, the team hit that window. Less than one minute into the half, Leah Dilger scored the second goal of the night — her second goal of the day. 

The Rangers continued to hold possession of the ball frequently and took several shots on goal in the second half, but none hit the back of the net. That was OK, though. The team had already secured their regional victory.

“We started [the season] on a low,” Leah said. “Now we’re winning regionals.”

The low came courtesy of COVID-19. Early in their season, the team found itself in quarantine after one of the players tested positive for the virus in August. During quarantine, games were canceled, and the team missed out on practices. Still, they stayed connected via weekly video calls, and the players took it upon themselves to stay conditioned since IHSAA guidelines barred Weyer from assigning workouts. 

When the team returned to the field, they came ready to play and had the best season in the history of Forest Park’s girls soccer program. 

“The start just makes this win 10 times better,” senior defender Linda Jacob said Saturday night. 

As the team progresses to semi-state, they know the competition will get tougher. Next weekend, they take on Park Tudor (20-2) in semi-state.

“We’re excited,” Leah Dilger said. “Anything can happen in post season. Even if the other team has a better record, we can still win.” 

Weyer said the Rangers’ strategy in semi-state will be similar to their strategy for regionals: come out strong and score early. 

“We play our game,” Weyer said. “We go in with high energy. I think we’ll be successful if we do that.”




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