Regional soccer: Alleman 6, Princeton 1
MOLINE — The Princeton Tigresses girls soccer team started off the postseason with promise, winning their 1A regional semifinal game 4-1 over Canton on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for PHS, everything that went right then was harder to come by against the Alleman Pioneers in Friday’s championship game.
The main obstacle was Alleman sophomore Kendall Wendt, who netted five goals to help the Pioneers win 6-1 over the Tigresses and earn a spot in the 1A Sectional at Bloomington Central Catholic on Tuesday.
Princeton lost a regular season game to Alleman in similar fashion, something PHS second-year girls coach David Gray was hoping to avoid.
“We came in with a tactic to press, especially their goal kicks,” he said. “And it was pretty much predicated on scoring early. We knew we were going to kinda run our legs out in the first 20 minutes, and if we didn’t get that goal, it was going to be difficult after that.
“We created a lot of good chances in that first 20, 30 minutes. We hit the bar, got real close a couple of times but just couldn’t convert, and when we gave up that (first) goal, we lost confidence.”
The Pioneers (8-6-2), on the other hand, were ready to build on their previous success against Princeton, which Alleman coach Randy Bollman says showed in their first score of the game (by Wendt) with 10:17 left in the first half.
“The last three or four training sessions, we’ve been focusing on attacking,” Bollman said. “She’s (Wendt) had a tendency to turn away from the goal, so her first goal was exactly what we’re trying to get from her, and hopefully that sinks in as we move forward.”
Just a minute later, Kate Mayerhofer decided she wanted a piece of the action, scoring at 9:14 to bump Alleman’s lead up to 2-0, which would last to the end of the first half.
“We just started kicking the ball away instead of trying to possess it,” Gray said. “They took advantage of us, winning the ball in areas where we’re exposed and counter-attacking quick.
“I think that was the difference. When they scored, they took us out of our game and took advantage of us when we gave up the ball to their feet.”
The second half started with a scare for PHS when goalie Angie Turpen hit the ground just 30 seconds in, and after being attended to on the field was taken to the Tigresses’ bench.
“She got a bloody nose, but once she got it treated, I think she proved she’s pretty tough, to her own surprise,” Gray said. “You know, last year she had an ankle roll and this year a bloody nose, but she kept playing. So, credit to her for her toughness.”
What seemed to be tougher for the Tigresses was keeping Wendt away from the net, scoring four more goals at 21:10, 10:20, 7:02, and :36 in the second half to help cement the Pioneers’ win.
Wendt freely gave credit to her teammates for her offensive success.
“It was mostly everyone passing it, and all I had to do was tap it in,” she said. “So they made it easy for me.”
PHS senior Kiley Schenck helped the Tigressess avoid a shutout with a goal at 8:17 left in the second half.
Through the momentary disappointment, Gray reflected happily on the season itself.
“It was really enjoyable,” he said. “They’re not just good soccer players, but they’re top-class people. I had no problems with eligibility or behavior issues. They came in with a good attitude night in and night out.
“Wins and losses are one thing, but this is a good group to be around.”