Rangers passing clinic overwhelms Jeeps

Photos by Hunter Tickel/The Herald
Forest Park senior center midfielder Payton Dilger (13) guides the ball to the corner. The captain converted a penalty shot in the 16th minute of a 3-1 win over Northeast Dubois on Thursday in Reo.


REO — Squaring off in the sectional for the first time since 2011, the Forest Park girls soccer team nearly maintained control of Northeast Dubois from start to finish.

A three-minute period, near the tail end of the first stanza, produced the lone bright spot for the Class 1A-No. 11 Jeeps (12-3) in their 3-1 loss on Thursday in Sectional 48 at South Spencer.

The Class No. 3 Rangers (17-1) used two finishes in the 15th and 16th minute to pounce on Dubois, and secure their fourth straight championship appearance.

"My motto, and the girls motto is those next five minutes are the most important in any soccer match," Forest Park coach Brad Weyer said. "After you score a goal or concede a goal, the next five minutes is when a goal is bound to happen."

Forest Park, who is seeking its fifth title, is scheduled to face North Posey on Saturday.

On the opening tally, Thursday, freshman forward Maggie Kerber won the ball in the box, laid it off to senior Leah Dilger, who fired the ball to the back post from 24 yards out, the ball was spilled by junior Dubois keeper Alexis Hawkins before crossing the line.

Senior captain Payton Dilger buried a penalty kick to the left a minute later. She had an efficient night spraying balls throughout the field, in addition to winning 50-50 balls and securing failed clearances.

Freshman forward Maggie Kerber was brought down in the box to set up the spot kick.

The Jeeps clawed back into the match with a finish against the run of play, on the counterattack, in the 36th minute.

Sophomore forward Landyn Rasche snuck behind the defensive line, before calmly scoring her 20th goal of the year.

"The girls kind of found their groove, I felt, at that time," Dubois coach Clive Williams said. "We were going and going. After the initial shock of two goals, the penalty, and whatever else, they found their groove. That's what I like about this team. Scoring is not the issue, it's how they want to play. They forgot about what happened, moved on, and came back, and kept strong."

Northeast Dubois sophomore center back Kelli Merkel (18) sends a goal kick upfield. The defender was a steady influence in the spine of the backline, her team lost 3-1 to Forest Park on Thursday in Sectional 48 at South Spencer. 
"We got kind of stagnant towards the final 10 minutes, we kind of let our guard down," Weyer said. "We didn't play a full 40 (minutes) that first half. It was a little disappointing."

Two minutes later, the Jeeps enjoyed their most potent run with another shot on goal, as Rasche found space in the 18 again.

Two minutes into the final period, Rangers sophomore Addison Weyer stunted the Jeeps progression by slotting it home, as senior Abigal Jahn dished her the ball. Weyer has a team-best 14 finishes this year.

In the past 20 years, the Jeeps have never progressed to the sectional championship.

"I said, they had nothing to (hold) their heads down for," Williams said. "This program got turned around in a year. This program, in the past years (has) seen losing seasons. They're not just going to just turn this around. They've got young girls that want to play, want to join the program because they see how good these (girls) are playing, and leading the way for others to join the program. They know the future is bright. They know that now, with the coaching staff we have, that the program is doing a lot better. You are going to see things from the program these next few years."    

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