Soccer Cards win Big 8 crown

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton's girls soccer team won the Big Eight Conference title Tuesday night./Photo submitted

SUN PRAIRIE — There are still far bigger fish to fry.

There are much larger goals waiting to be attained.

But for a few minutes Tuesday night, Middleton’s girls’ soccer team stopped, smiled, and reflected on what it had just achieved.

Middleton dominated host Sun Prairie from start to finish and rolled to a 2-0 Big Eight Conference win. The victory gave Middleton the undisputed Big Eight Conference title for a second straight year.

Middleton finished the regular season 8-0-1 in the league and tallied 25 points. Sun Prairie could have earned a share of the conference title with a win, but fell to 6-2-1 and settled for second place with 19 points.

“This feels really good,” said Middleton senior midfielder Lauren Griffin, who scored the second goal of the night. “We have a lot of young players and they put in the effort and have done a great job. Our older players have been great leaders and hopefully this is just the first step for us going really far.”

Middleton improved to 11-1-3 on the year and still hasn’t lost to a team from the state of Wisconsin. And game after game, Middleton continues to impress head coach Mary Duffy.

“This is one of the most together, great group of girls we’ve ever had,” Duffy said. “We have talent and depth and skill and the girls really like playing together and playing for each other.”

Freshman forward Victoria Bunz, who scored the game-winning goal, agreed with Duffy.

“This team is really supportive of each other and almost like a family,” Bunz said. “It’s just a great team to play with.”

Middleton was pretty great during its dominant win over Sun Prairie.

Middleton controlled possession for roughly 75 of the 90 minutes. Middleton peppered Sun Prairie keepers Sydney Martin and Jillian Buenger throughout the contest. And Middleton’s defense shape was so efficient, Sun Prairie’s scoring chances were virtually non-existent.

Middleton spent much of the first half peppering shots at Martin, then Bunz finally broke through in the 40th minute. Bunz gathered a cross from 18 yards out and snuck a shot inside the left post to give Middleton a 1-0 lead.

“It’s so important to get the first goal,” Bunz said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the other team.”

Middleton kept the pressure coming, too. After several near misses in the opening minutes of the second half, Griffin controlled a pass 20 yards out in the left flat. When Buenger, Sun Prairie’s keeper got off her mark, Griffin made her pay with a blast to the far corner.

“I thought we put a lot of pressure on them the whole game,” Griffin said. “It was a pretty good game.”

Now, the key for Middleton is to have several more good games over the next three weeks.

A year ago, Middleton won the Big Eight title and earned the No. 1 seed in its sectional. The following week, Middleton lost to ninth-seeded Verona in a regional final.

Duffy was headed to the postseason seeding meeting Wednesday, and Middleton was expected to get the No. 1 seed once again. But the results of 2017 will undoubtedly provide a cautionary tale for the 2018 team.

“Last year showed us we that can’t take anything for granted,” Griffin said. “If we get the top seed again, that means nothing. Everyone’s eyes are on us and we know we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. But we just have to keep playing our game.”

Middleton’s game has certainly been an impressive one. The Cardinals outscored its Big Eight foes, 50-3, and shutout seven of their nine league foes.

The postseason is a different animal, though, something the Cardinals know all too well. But Duffy also knows this could be the most talented group she’s ever had at MHS and could be the first Cardinals’ team to qualify for state since 2013.

“Last year we lost one game in the conference and this year we didn’t lose any,” Duffy said. “So I’d say we’ve improved and that’s a testament to the skill and the talent that we have.

“Anything can happen in the playoffs and we totally get that. But so far, this group has done an amazing job accomplishing a lot of great things.”




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