After an unexpected loss to Pulaski the previous week, the Waunakee Warriors bounced back quickly with a win over the Middleton Cardinals on Thursday evening. Last season the Cardinals knocked the Warriors out of the State Tournament in the Sectional Semifinal match held at Warrior Stadium. To say there was some bad blood would be an understatement.
The Warriors started the game a little slow, playing a lot of defense for the first 10 minutes. Fortunately this didn't result in any good opportunities. At the 11th minute a spark was lit. A well placed cross from Grace Lujan found Emily Mouille racing up the right side of the field. Mouille settled the ball, cut the ball across the defender to her inside foot, and buried the ball into the left side netting. This early goal is what the Warriors needed. From that point on through the half, the Warriors maintained better possession, and were able to get a few more good opportunities.
The Warriors made some minor adjustments at the half, to shore up their defensive marks and positioning, but they were mostly satisfied with how the game was proceeding.
The Warriors started the second half as strong as they ended the first. They had a slight edge on possession, and saw a couple chances on the net. Lujan was served deep balls into the corner, and she used her speed and aggressiveness to get some crosses into the Middleton goal box. Her tenacity also earned a some corners, one of which Macie Maulbetsch was able to knock just wide of the goal with her head.
As the half wore on, the Warriors were becoming noticeably tired, and Middleton didn't wait long to attack. Some ill-placed square balls in the middle of the field were intercepted by the Cardinals, and played through on the quick counter attack. The defense was beaten, and forced keeper Olivia Mecham to make some excellent sliding saves.
As the minutes ticked off, Middleton continued their strong attack. Another through ball forced Mecham off her line to meet an opposing player. Her slide saved the first attempt, but the ball popped out to the 18 yard line and the foot of a Middleton player. With the keeper still on the ground, the shot came quickly, but Sophomore defender Jordan Haag was able to get her body in the way and keep out the tying goal.
With 2 minutes left in the game, the Cardinals earned a corner kick and sent everyone up. An excellent cross dropped the ball around the 12 yard line, and after a little scrum, the Warriors were able to clear it up the field.
The Warriors hung on to win 1-0. With the win they improve to 3-1-0. The Warriors play conference rivals Deforest next Thursday, April 24th, at Warriors Stadium.