Rangers find their heart in all-around win

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
The Forest Park Rangers celebrate the team's victory during Thursday's Class 1A girls soccer sectional semifinal in Bretzville. Forest Park defeated North Knox 8-0 for their first sectional victory since October 7, 2014 over Salem. For more photos from the match, click here.


BRETZVILLE — Forest Park junior Denai Sicard felt toward the end of the season the Rangers girls soccer team had started to lose some of their drive and emotion.

However, in Thursday night’s sectional semifinal match against North Knox the Rangers found what they had been missing — heart.

“Our goal was mostly to just go out there and play with as much heart as possible,” said Sicard who had a goal in the Rangers 8-0 semifinal victory over the Warriors. “Our last few games we hadn’t been playing exactly how we wanted and one of our goals this week at practice was to find our heart again. We definitely did that tonight.”

The Rangers (13-4) were able to jump out to an early lead and from that point forward, they controlled the tempo for the remainder of the match.

Forest Park head coach Brad Weyer was just happy for his team to finally get back out on the field after not playing in nearly a week due to having a first round bye in the tourney. Thursday night’s victory was also the Rangers first girls soccer sectional win since October 7, 2014 when they defeated Salem.

“After always drawing powerhouses like Providence, Heritage Hills and Vincennes Rivet right away we’ve been building toward this. It’s been a few years in the making,” Weyer said. “Everyone was a little nervous before the match because we have lofty expectations — I mean, I was even nervous and I had never been nervous before a sectional match in my life.”

Forest Park scored their first goal of the night at the 28:10 mark in the first half when Sicard scored off of a header. The Warriors were able to stymie the Rangers for a little while longer despite Forest Park having multiple scoring opportunities.

But eventually, the Rangers broke the seal as Emma Louden scored back-to-back goals at the 15:50 mark and 11:44 mark to make it 3-0 Forest Park. Freshman Emma Grundhoefer scored at the 3:02 mark to make it a 4-0 Ranger lead at halftime.

The quick start for the Rangers was something that they wanted to see after a few disappointing performances by their standards in a few of their matchups at the end of the season.

“The past few games we’ve been kind of slacking on our ball control and that was one of our goals this week,” Sicard said. “We wanted to be able to find that again and take what we learned from earlier in the season and use it.”

Weyer added: “This was a total team effort from top to bottom. Everyone was out there playing with a lot of heart, a lot of energy and we were very physical which was something we tried to stress in our pregame talks. The girls feed off of each other — when one starts battling then it’s contagious and we played really well because of that great physicality.”

Forest Park started the second half with another goal almost immediately as Kenlee Gehlhausen got the Rangers on the board just a little over a minute into the second half and shortly after Gehlhausen got another goal in the back of the net to make it 6-0.

Forest Park's Payton Dilger kicks the ball during Thursday's Class 1A girls soccer sectional semifinal in Bretzville. The Rangers scored four goals in each the first and second halves with Kenlee Gehlhausen and Emma Louden leading the way with two goals each. For more photos from the match, click here.

North Knox’s goalkeeper Riley Petro was once again able to keep the Rangers at bay for a short amount of time as she recorded some solid saves but once the Rangers broke through, they broke through for good.
The final two goals of the night were scored by two freshmen — midfielder Layla Weyer and defender Abbie Jahn.

Final goal tallies for the Rangers were Kenlee Gehlhausen (two), Emma Louden (two), Emma Grundhoefer, Abbie Jahn, Denai Sicard and Layla Weyer.

Louden led the way with two assists while Lauren Jahn, Claire Mehling and Leah Dilger each had one.

With their victory, the Forest Park girls soccer team will meet up with Vincennes Rivet in the sectional championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m. — a battle of the No. 5 and No. 14 ranked teams in Class 1A (Rivet is No. 5, Rangers are No. 14).

It’s safe to say the Rangers are anticipating this match as the last time the two teams met, Rivet eliminated Forest Park 2-1 in the opening round of the sectional tournament last season.

“We’ve been looking at them for awhile because last year still leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” Weyer said. “But I think we’re ready, we’re hungry and we’re focused. We’re going to play our style, we’re not going to let them dictate how the game flows.”

Sicard added: “Oh yeah, we’re definitely coming back for some revenge. It was a tough loss but instead of having that bring us down, we used it as motivation for this season.”

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