Wildcat girls advance to regional championship

Photos by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Heritage Hills freshman Sidney Ayer (left) and Jasper sophomore Merin Buck (right) match up Saturday morning in the first game of the Jasper girls soccer regional. Jasper won, 2-1. 


Kara Krueger's hat trick in the Oct. 10 sectional championship was a big reason why her team played on Saturday, and her two-goal performance Saturday morning against Heritage Hills is a big reason why Jasper will play in the regional championship.

The Wildcats (8-9-1) and Patriots (18-2) were deadlocked in the first half when the Spalding University (Ky.) commit got the first goal of the game with 36:14 to play in the game, giving Jasper a 1-0 lead. The Wildcats and Pats both made pushes on goal in the first half before Krueger made it happen to break the deadlock. She also notched for the game-winner with 5:47 left, breaking the tie to send Jasper to the regional title game 2-1.

"After they tied it, I was like, 'We really need to pick it up,'" Krueger said. "We looked like we settled we settled in after that first goal, which you cannot do, and they really had the intensity up after that one because they just had the momentum, and we just really needed to start to pick it up after that one."

The Pats got things rolling not long after Krueger's first goal. Senior midfielder Kenley Mulzer got some traffic on the net a few times, and Heritage Hills finally broke through when junior Ella Schneiders got a kick in the lower left corner past Jasper junior keeper Maggie Hubster to tie the game with 25:51 left to play.

Jasper sophomore Jasmin Mehringer (2) gets a ball of Saturday for the Wildcats. Jasper bested Heritage Hills, 2-1, in the first game of the girls soccer regional. 

It ended up being a close, heartbreaking ending for Heritage Hills. The Pats had a ball on net with less than three minutes to play in the game. Heritage Hills fans thought the ball went in, and so did coach Andy Fischer, but it was ruled a no-goal.

"From my angle, it looked like it was in, and the keeper reached in over the line and brought the ball back out of the goal," Fischer said. "I thought it was from my angle, but there was a lineman there, and that they were on it."

Just to get to this point, Heritage Hills had to rally from a deficit against the defending Class 2A state champion Evansville Mater Dei in the Oct. 10 sectional championship, with the Pats notching a goal to win in overtime.

Fischer told the Herald about not being able to ask for a better group of players. He was so proud of everything the Pats went through after dealing with different injuries and quarantines through the duration of the year. He knows what he'll remember when he looks back on this team in the future.

"Just the grit that they have, and the relentlessness - the faith they have in each other, and just how they want to play for each other and do their best, always," he said.

Heritage Hills senior Kyndall Jordan (11) throws in Saturday for the Patriots, who fell, 2-1, to Jasper in the opener of the girls soccer regional. 

Wildcats coach Michael Donato, meanwhile, praised how well his players have grown more confident. He said it began Oct. 1 when they knocked off Forest Park, another sectional champion, 2-1, to close the regular season, and Donato knows they're playing differently than they did earlier in the season.

"It was all about the confidence and the fact that these girls, they're playing for each other right now, and they're playing for their seniors," Donato said. "They don't want to see their seniors stop. That's what it all comes down to, and that where we were getting the effort out there."

Jasper is now one win away from its third regional championship in girls soccer history. The Wildcats previously won such championships in 2005 and 2007, and will have to get by either Northview or Silver Creek Saturday evening to pull it off.

"Both of these teams, Silver Creek and Northview, they're very equal, they really are," Donato said.

"Whichever team we end up coming out and playing against, we're flat out going to have to play. I wouldn't prefer one over the other. It's going to be, 'You guys have to play that you know how to do it, or else you're not going to move on.'"

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