Redefined Pats now full speed aheadOctober 3, 2012
By JOE JASINSKI
Herald Sports Writer
BRETZVILLE — If Doug Satterfield decided to put away the soccer balls, take out the stopwatch and morph his squad into a sprint relay team, he’s fairly certain who his anchor would be.
“Fastest kid in southern Indiana,” the Heritage Hills coach said before the question of Breigh Haase’s speed was finished.
There could be one concern, however. Haase’s greatest asset might not be her speed. Well, OK, it probably is. But combine it with the sophomore’s dexterity with the ball at her feet, and the never-ending fury ensues.
“I don’t really know what her 40 time is, but she’s obviously very fast,” Satterfield said.
Even when the petite Haase was recovering from a strained thigh that had sidelined her for a portion of the season, the swiftness was there. Yet over the course of Heritage Hills’ final two regular-season matches, and accented by her three-goal exhibition in Tuesday night’s 4-1 Class 1A sectional win over Northeast Dubois, Haase appears to have risen to another level.
“After the injury, I just wasn’t running right because I was scared I was going to hurt (my thigh) again. So I wasn’t at my fastest,” Haase said. “Now, it’s just like … I feel like I was in track season.”
Since a 5-0 meltdown to Evansville Mater Dei on Sept. 22, the Patriots (10-5-1) have blitzed everyone in their way, stockpiling 19 goals in their last three games, with Haase accounting for eight of them.
Beyond the goal totals, Haase has regained her comfort, and subsequently, her confidence at the outside midfield, where she churns without stoppage.
Some five minutes into Tuesday’s match, she polished a lofted ball from the left side that narrowly evaded the goalkeeper’s fingertips.
Ten minutes later, she crashed the net and deposited the rebound of a shot by Karaline Staggs, who later sniped the Patriots’ third goal of the first half.
With 30 minutes to play, Haase seized the ball from a Jeep defender, shielded off another and buried a low burner for her hat trick.
Clearly unsatisfied, Haase ripped a left-footed half-volley from outside the 18-yard box that pinged off the crossbar with just over two minutes in the match.
“The other thing is, just both feet, you know?” Satterfield said. “She’s got power in both feet. She’s a pretty good weapon.”
Though injuries plagued the Jeeps (5-7-1) all season, at no point did players’ attitudes falter, coach Katie Layou said, as evidenced by a few of them giddily sliding on the field following the contest.
Layou commended the consistency of Brynn Hoffman, Alicia Betz, Emily Epple, Ashton Knies and Kendra Schroering, who tallied the lone Jeep goal on a free kick with eight minutes to play in regulation. Though Ashley Humbert and Kendra Wineinger were both injured for a majority of the season, with Humbert out for its entirety, the two seniors imparted leadership, Layou said.
“They did well,” said the first-year coach, who also commended goalkeeper Katie Kluesner for her stand-up effort all season. “It’s not all about winning and losing they’re proving. So we’ll just see where it takes us next year. They all love playing so they’ll be back. … We’ll be back and we’ll be ready.”
For a Patriot squad whose biggest concern had been its mental preparedness, Satterfield said its approach to and attitude during the sectional contest was different.
“It started in practice last night,” Satterfield said. “We were focused, we could tell that this meant something to the kids, and they carried that even on the bus ride over here. There wasn’t a lot of banter. Their thoughts were on what was going to transpire on the field. And they were able to deliver on the field.”
Satterfield estimated that his team grabbed 80 percent of the match’s 50-50 balls, while applauding the decision-making and distribution of Adrianna Oxley and the defensive play of Carolyn Burroughs, who’s “just as solid as they come.”
For Haase, the team’s success arose from the maturation of freshmen who have taken on key roles on a team ranked as high as eighth this season.
“At the beginning of the season, our freshmen, they weren’t in high school mode,” Haase said. “They were still in middle school mode. And now they’re getting the feel of it and we are just working together so hard.”
Yet it’s a peculiar scenario for the young, defending sectional champion Pats, who will confront Salem in Thursday’s semifinal. Faces have changed since last fall’s regional run, and with that has come a redefinition of sorts.
“The kids that were back here from last year, they had six or seven seniors that really led the team and dominated the team, and they were kind of role players,” Satterfield said. “So this is a new experience for just about everybody. I think they’ve established a name for themselves or a style for themselves, even though they’re predominantly freshmen and sophomores. They’re putting a stamp on what they’re going to do the rest of their careers.”
Contact Joe Jasinski at jjasinski@dcherald.
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