Craig soccer seeks redemption
RACINE On Thursday night, the seniors on the Janesville Craig High girls soccer team walked across the stage at graduation.
This afternoon they'll attempt to take a step closer to a WIAA State Soccer Tournament berth.
The Cougars (10-7-1) travel to Racine Horlick (11-5-1) for a 1 p.m. Division 1 sectional semifinal match. It's a rematch of last year's meeting between the two teams at the same stage of the postseason.
The winner will be one victory away from a state berth.
"I don't think they'll ever forget (that match), and they're using that this year," Craig coach Bill McCabe said in regards to the Cougars' 2-0 loss to Horlick last year. "They want to use that to encourage them to practice hard, and they did. And they want to take it into the game.
"I don't want to call it revenge in high school soccer, but they want to redeem themselves."
The Cougars spent most of their week of practice working on keeping the ball in front of them by not over-committing on defense.
They'll also see a deep sweeper on defense, a scheme that Craig hasn't played against this year.
"We know what we're going to do to counter that and have practiced it all week long," McCabe said. "We're going to try to exploit that phase between their deep sweeper and two outside backs. Hopefully we can accomplish that. They also are a very physical team."
The Cougars also continue to embrace a team mentality.
They outscored their regional opponents 7-0 in two matches, with five different players (Monica Speth, Kristi Crandall, Kate Heaps, Samantha Champion and Becca Kalish) scoring goals. Keepers Maddie Schroeder and Katie Villa held those opponents scoreless, with help on defense from second-team all-Big Eight selection Randi Sheetz.
"It's not one individual, it's everybody playing as a team, whether it's the girls substituting on the bench or the girls starting," McCabe said. "Everywhere we go, they ask for the starters so they can announce them. But I cannot give them the starters until five minutes before because the girls are trying out every single minute up to the start of the game."
If the Cougars can graduate to the sectional finals, they'll face Kenosha Tremper at 7 p.m. Saturday in Elkhorn.