Monroe beats Delavan-Darien to continue road playoff success
DELAVAN--It’s every soccer team’s goal to be playing its best when the World Cup begins.
That’s even true for a high school girls team more than 5,000 miles from Sao Paulo.
Monroe has peaked at the perfect time, and the Cheesemakers are now one win away from their first state tournament berth. They won their third straight postseason road match, topping Delavan-Darien 2-0 on Thursday.
Monroe will play Mount Horeb in a sectional final Saturday at Evansville. Mount Horeb defeated McFarland 3-0 in a sectional semifinal Thursday night.
The Vikings will run into a confident bunch of Cheesemakers.
“We always say, ‘Our World Cup starts today,’” Cheesemakers senior captain Gabby Ludwig said. “I think we just picked up the intensity, we’re working really well as a team and we’re peaking at the right moment. It’s really exciting. I can’t stop smiling.”
The second-seeded Comets finished the season with a 13-11 record.
“Everybody’s got injuries, but I had more concussions this year than I probably had in five years combined,” coach Bruce Mowery said. “But our girls played hard. All I’ve ever asked them to do is leave everything on the field, and that’s what they did.”
Monroe that was able to settle in Thursday thanks to an early goal.
The Cheesemakers found junior midfielder Emily Frankowski streaking to the top of the box, and she finished off a crossing pass with a solid strike in the 10th minute.
“That goal was big,” Monroe coach Miriam O’Neill said. “You can kind of start playing the game that you really want to play rather than trying to stop the other team.”
“We made a little bit of a mistake on the outside,” Mowery said. “They’re very structured in what they run. They played it well on the outside and released. Our fear was if we got behind, what could we do to get it back?”
The Comets never solved that riddle, and Monroe doubled its lead just before halftime.
The ball was played into the box with backspin and could not be controlled by the Comets. Ludwig got to it on the bounce and scored to make it 2-0.
“I was just like, ‘I’ve got to get it in,’” Ludwig said. “It’s always good to have a little more cushion.”
The two-goal lead was plenty for Monroe keeper Shyanna Kelley. She made three saves, including one on a second-half breakaway by the Comets, to earn the clean sheet.
Now the Cheesemakers, who have already advanced farther in the tournament than the program ever has, will attempt to make a state appearance.
It’s a rewarding experience for O’Neill, who has been part of the program since its inception in Monroe a decade ago.
“They’ve already made history this year, and I’m really proud of them,” she said. “Our soccer program had never won a regional championship before.
“We started the program as being funded from the community, and last year, at the 10-year mark, the school took it on. It’s so nice to see everything they’ve managed to accomplish.”