Wildcats eliminated in regional championshipOctober 17, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Jasper’s girls soccer season ended in heartbreaking fashion Saturday night, but it also ended on a stage that coach Michael Donato could not have envisioned earlier in the year.
A goal was deflected in by the Wildcats (8-10-1) with 33:52 left to play in Saturday’s regional championship game against Silver Creek proved to be their undoing. Dragons senior Anna Wright received credit for the goal, and that proved to be the only goal either side scored in the game, as Jasper fell, 1-0, in the regional championship.
However, the Wildcats got to this point after they dealt with injuries, quarantines and losing seven of their first nine games.
“The beginning of the season was really rough and bumpy, and they just need to be holding their heads high when they’re stepping off of here,” Donato said.
Donato found it unfortunate that the goal deflected in ended up being the deciding goal, and he thought the deflection might’ve went to his players’ heads a little bit. That goal, he thought, cost the Wildcats some minutes, and it took a while for them to get some good balls in their favor Saturday evening.
Jasper tried to find a rhythm on offense, as sophomore Reagan Fortwendel began attacking the net later in the half, and so did senior Kara Krueger. Krueger had already starred earlier in the day when her two goals against Heritage Hills sent the Wildcats to the regional title game, but Silver Creek blocked what could’ve been a game-tying free kick.
“She drove the ball low and into the wall,” he said. “When you do that, you have to make a decision. You either try to go over the wall or under, and a lot of times, the wall jumps, and they didn’t. They held their ground.”
Donato will look back on this season and remember the things the Wildcats overcame. He lauded the way Krueger performed, as the senior forward also had a hat trick in the Oct. 10 sectional championship against Vincennes Lincoln. Donato also had praise for junior keeper Maggie Hubster, who hadn’t played in goal since she was in seventh grade, but made some key saves in the process.
“The way that this group is so tight-knit — they’re great friends off the field, they’re great friends on the field, and this whole season was for each other,” Donato said. “There wasn’t anybody out there that was playing individually to showcase themselves. It really was for the whole team, and that’s what you want. That’s the purpose of a team, honestly.”
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