The first time that the New Berlin Eisenhower girls soccer team played the New Berlin West Vikings this year, they squeezed out a 3-2 win, so Thursday evening’s 6-1 playoff win was much bigger than anyone had anticipated.
“When we played them during the season we won by one,” said Lions coach Jim Keller. “Our whole preparation was to come out with high intensity. We’ve been working on high intensity play all week.”
High intensity was indeed the story as the Lions scored three goals in the first twenty minutes of play. The first clear chance came when Erin Ganzke made a run up the wing, cut into the penalty area, and cut the ball back to Jenny Weiland whose shot went just wide of the near post. Shortly thereafter, however, a well crossed ball produced a scramble in the box until Ganzke got her foot on the ball and tucked it past West keeper Emily Sehulster.
The Vikings nearly answered when Lexi Porter made a good run and took a shot, but it was saved by Taylor Rickard. Ike then created another chance of their own with a well-placed through ball to Stefanie Panzenhagen on the wing, who subsequently crossed it to Jackie Vanderkolk. Vanderkolk controlled the ball with her chest and poked it into the net for a 2-0 lead.
“I got it on a cross and I hit it off my chest,” she said, “and I wasn’t sure it was going to go in so I just tapped it in with my foot to make sure.”
Ike continued to pour on the pressure, hitting the crossbar in the 16th minute before Cayley Farrell took a strike on an angle to the goal, sending the ball flying into the net just inside the far post for a 3-0 lead with just 20nminutes gone.
“We start slow,” said Vikings coach Hansi Herzog. “It was plain and simple that we didn’t step up and play. We talked about it all week and we talked about it all of last week that we need to step up and come out strong, and we didn’t do that, but you’ve got to hand it to them. Kudos to them and I wish them luck going forward.”
Near the end of the first half, the Vikings scored their lone goal of the game from distance. The shot was well placed over Rickard’s head from freshman defender Lauren Odegard, and it shifted the momentum of the game a bit before halftime.
The Vikings began possessing the ball more and gaining more territory, threatening the Lions’ goal on a few occasions, and the momentum carried into the second half. The Vikings nearly reduced their deficit to just one when Tina Bedwell found good space in front of the goal and struck the ball towards the net. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Rickard was there to make a good save onto the crossbar and the rebound was kicked behind for a corner.
The game-ending goal came when a well placed cross from Vanderkolk was headed in off the post, giving the Lions a nearly insurmountable 4-1 lead halfway through the second half. Ganzke and Kristen Hesselbach added two more goals to put the game on ice.
“I just have to wait and make sure that there are teammates up there,” said Vanderkolk. “We’re a pretty quick team. Once I cross it I’m always positive that there will be someone there to hit it in.”
“They were on their heels for a while,” said Herzog. “We had them on their heels and then we give up three goals, boom, boom, boom.”
The Lions feel confident heading into their Sectional Final against Catholic Memorial at 1 p.m. at Shorewood, but they know that they will have to be on their game.
“I think we have a really good chance,” said Vanderkolk. “We came out really hard today. We knew that if we lost, this was it. Everyone, especially the seniors, want to make it to state in our last year.”
“They’re always tough. It’ll be a tough match,” added Keller, “but if we play well on defense then I feel confident that we can score enough goals to win.”
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