The New Holstein girls soccer team enters today’s WIAA State Tournament Division 4 semifinal at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee as one of the hottest teams in Wisconsin. On the flip side, their opponent may be even hotter.
At 17-3-3, the Huskies have not lost since April 29 and are 14-0-3 since, but fellow No. 1 seed Racine St. Catherine’s (22-1-2) has been equally as good. The Angels’ lone loss came all the way back in their second game on April 5, resulting in the powerhouse to emerge as the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association’s No. 1 D4 team to end the regular season.
But, when the game gets underway at noon, one of the pair’s undefeated streaks will be on its way toward coming to an end.
“They’re the No. 1-ranked team in the state, have been for quite some time, so obviously they’re a very good team,” New Holstein coach Nate Laabs said. “We’ve just been trying to concentrate a lot on what we’re going to do and not what they’re going to do.”
That area of focus is something Laabs has been stressing the three times the Huskies have gotten together since their 1-0 sectional final double overtime win over Howards Grove on Saturday. Monday’s practice was held at an Appleton facility that features a turf similar to the one at Uihlein Soccer Park. on Tuesday, offensive passing was the core skill being addressed.
“Going into this game, they know who our leading scorers are, so we’re going to need to have other players step up and get some scores, and we have the players that are capable of doing that,” Laabs said. “They will concentrate on our forwards and we will need someone to step up and help.”
New Holstein is led in scoring by senior forward Laiken Meyer — who has 22 goals and four assists — and junior midfielder Karissa Preston, who has 12 goals and eight assists. Senior midfielder Danielle Brenner — who scored the game-winner against Howards Grove — has four goals and 11 assists while senior midfielder Karli Fannin and senior forward Lexi Peterson have seven goals and three assists each.
Laabs said the Angels feature three potent scorers and that his team will need to play defense similarly to the way it did against Howards Grove.
“Any time you have three players with a lot of goals it usually means you have a good team and are a good offensive team,” Laabs said. “The only reason we survived (Howards Grove) was because we were able to hold them scoreless. Our focus is, and has been, that we want to hold the other team back offensively and keep them at zero (scores). As long as we do that, we’ll always have a shot.”
On the season the Angels have scored 86 goals and allowed 16 and been shut out once — in their lone loss. New Holstein has scored 67 goals and allowed 13. For the Huskies’ seniors, a shutout would put them one step closer to their ultimate goal of winning the state title they missed out on in 2011 when they fell as freshmen in the semifinals.
New Holstein returns to the tournament field for the fifth time overall and for the first time since the second of back-to-back appearances in 2010-11. The experience in 2010 resulted in winning the Division 3 championship. The Huskies also played in the championship final in 2008 and finished runner-up.
Racine St. Catherine’s — winner of the South Division title of the Metro Conference — is making its fourth appearance at State and first since 2007 when the Angels finished runner-up in Division 3.
“We’ve just talked about focusing on playing to win games,” Laabs said. “All of the seniors are quiet leaders and they are focused and determined. They lead that way. You can tell they’re focused.”