Kapaun Mount Carmel girls soccer coach Anthony Cantele sees many similarities between this year’s team and last year’s team that made a postseason run to the Class 5A championship game.
Both teams struggled to put away games because goals were at a premium. Sometimes that has cost Kapaun this season, but on Saturday the defense-first philosophy paid off in a 1-0 victory at Eisenhower in a Class 5A regional championship game.
Kapaun (12-5-1) has returned to the quarterfinals and will play top seed Bishop Carroll on Tuesday.
“We’ve had trouble with finishing really all of this season, so we’ve talked a lot about how we need to take advantage of the few opportunities we do get,” Cantele said. “I thought the girls did a great job of that today. We didn’t get many chances, but we finished the great one we did get and that was the difference.”
The game’s only goal came just before halftime, as Sierra Fury danced her way to the touch line and played a cross to the face of goal. Brenna Monty was there to finish on the back post.
Eisenhower (13-4) nearly found the equalizer on a carbon copy of Kapaun’s goal in the 72nd minute, but Payton Lawson’s cross was ruled to be out-of-bounds before Anna Wusterbarth fininshed. It was one of the few chances the Tigers were able to create.
“We haven’t really been scoring a ton this year, so we have to capitalize on the chances we do get,” Monty said. “I knew as soon as Sierra got there she was going to make a perfect cross. We actually were worried it was going to be out of bounds, but she played a great cross and all I did was place it in the far corner.”
Kapaun settled in to play a defensive second half, as the centerback duo of Anna Roulston and Mary Boulanger allowed the Crusaders to play — and win — such games.
That’s the winning formula the Crusaders used last season and it’s the same one they hope to continue with next week.
“Defense is really important to us and that’s what is going to let us win games,” Boulanger said. “I think we’re all really motivated right now because we know this could be our last game. We’re playing with that same urgency again.”
First half: 1. Kapaun, Monty (Fury). Shots: Kapaun 7, Eisenhower 5. Saves: Kapaun, Michaelis 3; Eisenhower, Arlt 3.