Despite being on the other end of the field, Valley Center goalkeeper Elayna Coleman could feel the good vibes coming from Brittani Greenlee and her pending corner kick with four minutes to play Friday.
“When she walked up I could just tell that this is going in or someone is going to get it,” Coleman said. “And (Madison Wedekind) is so good up in the air. She is the best person I’ve seen. She got to it and I jumped out of my shoes. It was crazy.”
Greenlee’s kick was perfectly placed in front of the goal, where Wedekind found it and put it in the net to give the Hornets the lead and the eventual 3-2 win over Mill Valley in the Class 5A girls soccer semifinals at McPherson College.
“I was in disbelief,” Wedekind said. “The goalie missed it. It was right in the box so I just ran through it. I didn’t even try to kick it. I just ran with my body.”
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The win kept Valley Center undefeated on the season and sent it into Saturday’s championship game against St. Thomas Aquinas.
“It’s a great win for Valley Center. The girls are 20-0,” Valley Center coach Jeff Burger said. “We got the first goal — that was critical. We just sort of stayed ahead or even and that was really important I think for the girls’ psyche to not get behind because this team is so potent.”
Valley Center got on the board 10 minutes into the game when Kylie Callender scored via a header after a throw-in by Holle McQuitty. Mill Valley responded with a goal by Kayla Hamner with 15 minutes to play in the half.
The Hornets answered right back — with a little help from Mill Valley. Another throw-in for Valley Center bounced off of a Jaguar defender and into the net, a play that was more frustrating to Mill Valley coach Arlan Vomhof than Wedekind’s game-winner.
“I’m more upset about the fact that we gave up an own goal,” Vomhof said. “It just barely missed the post. I don’t know that people moved to it.”
The Jaguars’ Abigail Sieperda scored early in the second half to tie the game, one that saw Mill Valley outshoot Valley Center 16-7.
But Burger expected this, and thought his offense had the horsepower to keep up with the Jaguars.
“It’s tempting as a coach to get nervous on this stage and try to go conservative,” Burger said. “But we stayed wide open the whole time and maybe we don’t give up two if we go conservative, but I know we don’t score three if we go soft.”
The aggressiveness led to Wedekind’s game-winner from Greenlee, a play Valley Center opponents should be all too familiar with.
“Brittani and Maddie did what they have done all year on corners,” Burger said. “Just find a way to finish. Nice, beautiful goal.”
Aquinas 2, Carroll 0 — Bishop Carroll had the three-time Class 5A state champions right where it wanted, until one costly mistake moments before halftime.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ goal late in the first half proved to be the deal-breaker.
“It changed the outlook of the game altogether,” Carroll coach Greg Rauch said about the Jaguars’ first-half goal. “All of a sudden we were a little bit nervous and panicked instead of composed.”
The goal allowed Aquinas to refocus at the break and settle into its offense in the second half. The Saints outshot Carroll 23-5 and felt the score could have been much more lopsided.
“I thought Carroll played a really good first half against us. We were lucky to get that goal right before half,” Aquinas coach Craig Ewing said. “We like to attack wide and come in. The second half we did that.”
Bishop Carroll will play Mill Valley in the third-place game at noon, a game they hope to use to further develop a very young team.
“It was disappointment, but you also have to acknowledge the talent that is there across the field from us,” Rauch said. “I still feel like we are a very strong team, so that’s fantastic for us. Hopefully we will be there again for years to come.”
Valley Center 3, Mill Valley 2
First half — Valley Center, Callender; Mill Valley, Hamner (Chapman); Valley Center, Team. Second half — Mill Valley, Sieperda; Valley Center, Wedekind (Greenlee). Shots — Mill Valley 6-10—16; Valley Center 3-4—7. Saves — Mill Valley, Minter 1-1—2; Valley Center, Coleman 2-4—6.
Aquinas 2, Carroll 0
|St. Thomas Aquinas||1||1||—||2|
First half—Aquinas, Kutey (Sweeney). Second half—Aquinas, Meyers. Shots—Carroll 3-2—5; Aquinas 11-12—23. Saves—Carroll, Reichenberger 5-4—9; Aquinas, Loughman 2-1—3.