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Friday, October 13, 2017

Another 36th District Championship for Highlands

Highlands Downs NewCath, 1-0

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, The Highlands girls soccer team poses with the 36th District trophy Thursday at Newport. That marked the 10th district championship in 12 years for Highlands.
Considering it has now happened 10 of the last 12 seasons, it may seem like a routine thing.

But the Highlands Ladybirds soccer players and coaches will tell you the way it happens is anything but that. Highlands handled the Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds, 4-0 at Morscher Field on Sept. 27.

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The rematch for the 36th District championship was much closer. But Highlands made a first-half goal stand up in a 1-0 victory. Highlands moved to 16-4-1 overall, 11-1 against 9th Region opponents and 6-0 against district opponents and NewCath fell to 13-4-2.

"It was a lot of preparation (for the region tournament)," said Brian Wiefering, Highlands Head Coach. "We knew they were going to come out and play better than the last time we played them. It was a gritty win. We prepared hard for it."

The only goal of the game came with 22:15 left in the first half. Sophomore Lauren Deckert slipped a pass to sophomore Maria Broering for the goal. It marked Broering's 11th goal of the year and Deckert's eighth assist.

"It was a perfect ball from (Deckert) in the middle," Broering said. "I didn't even think about it. I think sometimes when I'm shooting, I'm overthinking. I saw the opportunity, took the shot and it went in."

Highlands had 12 shots including seven on goal compared to 10 shots including eight on goal for NewCath. Sophomore goalkeeper Maggie Hinegardner made seven saves and Kacy Zimmerman made six saves for NewCath.

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NewCath pulled the offsides trap up front. Highlands did have five calls, but still created opportunities.

It again started at the midfield. Players such as freshman Kenzie Nehus won the 50/50 balls and started the offensive attacks.

"We had a whole practice one day of working on headers and I think that really helped us because we needed to win every ball that we could," Nehus said. "Every 50/50 ball matters. That one time you don't win it could be the difference. We did it really well."

The game saw some physical play as usual. Highlands had nine fouls to three for NewCath. The game's lone yellow card went to the Lady Breds.

Highlands did a good job clearing the ball in the game's last 15 minutes. Junior defender Hannah Gish cleared two NewCath throw-ins in the final two minutes.

"The last 15 minutes looked like we might have been falling apart, but we practiced and prepared for a defensive set for a 1-0 (score) with 10-15 minutes left with our goal just being not to let the other team score," Wiefering said. "They did a good job managing the clock and coming out with a 1-0 win."

The Ladybirds play in the 9th Region Tournament next week with the quarterfinals beginning Monday at Tower Park. The draw is Saturday.

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