Cathedral girls’ football hits state ticket with section-final shutout
SAUK CENTER – Cathedral’s Hadleigh Baynes had many different emotions two minutes into the Women’s Section 8A title match against Fergus Falls on Tuesday.
Ava Schmidt shot on goal for the Crusaders and the ball came out of his foot badly. The ball hit the top crossbar of the goal and went straight down to the Fergus Falls goaltender.
As the ball fell, the ball grazed the keeper’s hand and landed inches from the goal line to give Cathedral a 1-0 lead around two minutes into the game.
Those goal-scoring thumbs also gave Cathedral the confidence and momentum to lead the Crusaders to a 3-0 victory and a section title with a trip to the Class A women’s football tournament.
“All the credit goes to these girls,” said Cathedral head coach Stephanie McGuinness. “They worked hard through the offseason and the regular season to get there and they continued to work hard tonight for the win. They put a lot of time into this game and this team and they deserve every minute of it. this victory and this experience. “
After Schmidt’s goal, neither team scored again in the first half. The Crusaders controlled possession for most of the first half as Fergus Falls had just a handful of shots on goal.
McGuinness challenged the girls to start the game fast and hard. The Crusaders have had that mindset for almost every game this season and it has allowed them to take an early lead and put pressure on the opponent.
“We still have the mentality to score in the first five minutes,” Baynes said. “If we can score early it puts pressure on the other team and gives us momentum right away.”
The second half started with pressure from Fergus Falls and the cathedral defense responded with some key saves and saves from the experienced back line. Eventually, Cathedral pushed his way onto the field for the offense and logged in immediately.
About three minutes into the second half, Hope Schueller shot on goal from around 25 yards and connected for a goal. The ball went directly over the head and hands of the Fergus Falls goalkeeper to the back of the net.
Cathedral led 2-0 early in the second half, but Fergus Falls didn’t give up. The Otters returned to the field and took possession of the field to put some pressure on Cathedral seventh-year goaltender Amelia Newiger.
“Amelia has improved so much over the season and I can see her growth in every game,” said Baynes. “She’s been out for the ball more and her confidence has continued to grow throughout the season.”
The Crusaders defense and Newiger made some key saves to maintain a two-goal lead. Cathedral’s offense helped extend that lead with a goal with 27 minutes remaining in the second half.
Schueller gave a teammate a corner kick, which sent him back to Schueller. She threw the ball close to the goal and Peyton Mathiasen did the rest, hitting it for a goal.
“All credit goes to Hope because this ball was kicked perfectly,” said Mathiasen. “I just hit, but Hope put the ball so well for me.”
Once the clock hit midnight, the cathedral girls ran onto the field and teamed up to hug each other. This season has seen its ups and downs, but the Crusaders have remained united.
The team includes six seniors, but also a handful of juniors, sophomores, freshmen and even college students. The rating doesn’t matter as everyone is welcome to the team and it helps that team click at the right time.
“The six seniors run this team, but the team works as one on the pitch,” said McGuinness. “It’s wonderful to watch as a coach and it makes me emotional. They love each other and play for each other every game.”
Baynes and Mathiasen are two of the squad’s six seniors, but they both agreed this senior class has been dreaming of this moment for a while. They have been playing football together from a young age and they knew the talent was there to show off.
Now they are excited not only about the state, but the future of cathedral women’s soccer as well. They think the Crusaders have a lot of chances to be declared in the future with the talent of these young players from seventh to 11th.
“We haven’t finished this season and plan to compete in the United States next week,” said Mathiasen. “Once this season is over, I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next few years because there is a lot of talent in this team that returns next season.”
The Cathedral will qualify for the State Class A Women’s Football Tournament for the first time since 2005 and the fourth time in the school’s history. The state quarterfinals will take place next week with a date, time and location to be announced later. Status brackets will be released on Saturday morning.
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