Soccer Cardinals roll through regionals

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton's girls soccer team was all smiles after rolling through regionals./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton girls’ soccer coach Mary Duffy has talked at length this season about the special group she’s been given.

How this collection of Cardinals appears poised to do things few other Middleton teams ever have.

Middleton will try doing just that this week.

The Cardinals won a WIAA Division 1 regional title last week with a pair of convincing wins. Middleton cruised past Janesville Parker, 12-0, in a regional semifinal last Thursday and toppled Watertown, 5-1, in a regional final last Saturday.

Top-seeded Middleton was slated to host Big Eight Conference foe and fourth-seeded Janesville Craig in a sectional semifinal Wednesday. The winner is scheduled to meet either second-seeded Kettle Moraine or third-seeded Sun Prairie in a sectional final Saturday at 5 p.m. in Kettle Moraine.

“We need to make sure that our practices reflect the intensity of how we need to play,” Duffy said. “This group of girls has really embodied the idea that we will play how we practice and I have seen great focus at the smallest of activities. 

“We are ready, we are focused, we are prepared and this is our game and our moment and we will make the most of it together. We will play for each other and this team.”

The Cardinals certainly did that last week and cruised to two easy wins.

Middleton scored 12 first half goals against Parker and the game was stopped at halftime due to the mercy rule.

Lexi Schultz, Victoria Bunz and Lauren Griffin all had two goals, while Cami Malak, Nina Malak, Tyler Wilson, Kendall Roquet, Emily Duecker and Maeve Gonter all added goals.

“It was a similar result from our regular season play, which can be difficult to take into the next round and be ready for more of a fight from the team,” Duffy said. “I was able to scout the Watertown/Mukwonago game later that night and we were able to prepare mentally, physically and intellectually for how they were going to play on Saturday.”

The Cardinals seemed to have it all figured out during their impressive win over the Goslings last Saturday.

The game was scoreless until the 31st minute when Hailey Kowalski buried a left-footed rocket to give Middleton a 1-0 lead. 

“There was so much traffic that the goalie had no idea where the ball was until it was too late and it zoomed past her two feet away,” Duffy said. 

Later in the half, Wilson scored to give the Cardinals a 2-0 halftime lead.

“Watertown was in the exact position of being down 2-0 to Mukwonago and still found a way to win,” Duffy said. “So we knew they would come out strong to make a run at chipping down the lead. Luckily our girls were prepared and ready for it.”

They sure were.

Wilson scored early in the second half to give Middleton a 3-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, Bunz sent a beautiful cross to Nina Malak, who converted an terrific header off the cross to make it 4-0.

Watertown scored late to make it 4-1. But Bunz capitalized later in the game off a cross from Cami Malak to account for the final score.

“We devised a game plan to deal with (Watertown’s) top players and playmakers,” Duffy said. “The night before we sat down for a Q&A on what we needed to do and exploit against Watertown to help our chances of a win and the girls listened and executed that plan very well. We were very focused from start to finish. 

“Our quote of the week was two things: Do not try to be the best on the team, but the best for the team and every single girl has embraced this idea from practice to game to warm-ups. And then be fearless from start to finish. We were ready to play when that whistle blew.”

Now, the Cardinals need to be ready against Craig.

The teams played to a 2-2 draw on April 26, and Duffy has raved for two years about how dangerous the Cougars are. But Middleton has extremely high hopes this season and will continue chasing those dreams against Craig.

“We know what we need to do and are stronger in our knowledge of how to get that done,” Duffy said. “This is a very focused group of Cardinals. 

“Craig has a very organized group of young players that can be dangerous at any moment. We have made such improvements to our game with mental focus and cleaning up our mental breakdowns on the field. Our team is stronger from the top line to our last line of defense.”



Janesville Parker ................. 0 x — 0

Middleton ......................... 12 x — 12

First half: Schultz (Wilson), 1:33; Griffen (Schultz) 2:00; Griffen (Schultz), 5:53; Schultz, 10:53; N. Malak (Bunz), 16:51; C. Malak (Roque), 21:14; Wilson, 24:28; Roquet, 24:49; Bunz, 26:47; Bunz (Wilson), 31:21; Duecker, 37:20; Gorter (Ginsberg), 41:47.

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