Beating a team three times in one season is never easy, at least that’s what Manitowoc Lincoln is hoping.
The Ships are set to square off with Neenah Thursday at Oshkosh West having lost a pair of 2-0 matches to the Rockets.
Should Lincoln prevail in the WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal they’ll be one step closer to a return to state.
Lincoln coach Mary Beth Dixon knows there will be no secrets in the third match against Neenah this season.
“We know what they can do,” Dixon said. “We know where their weaknesses are and they know about us. It just depends on what team shows up that night and how they’re playing. We need to focus on what we can do because none of them are anything we can’t do, we just have to do them more regularly against a team like that.”
Senior Mallory Dixon, daughter of Mary Beth, says her and her teammates are excited about the rematch.
“We like it in a way because we know their tendencies and weaknesses and where they hurt us in the past,” Mallory said. “We want to use their weaknesses as our advantage.”
For the Ships to move on, Mary Beth knows not one player is more important than the next.
“Every player has to to step up,” Dixon said. “You can’t have anyone really having an off night. Everyone has to be there and ready to play, at least that’s what you hope at this point of the season. There’s a lot of teams who would do anything to still be playing that are finished so we hope to represent well and play to the level we know we can.”
One such player according to Mallory is teammate and fellow senior Katie Henry.
“She’s played really, really well these last two games,” Dixon said. “It’s hitting home that we have nothing left to lose and she’s determined that these next games aren’t going to end our season.”
With that said, Thursday could be the final game together for the Dixon’s but neither one is paying any attention to it.
“I’ll get to that when that happens,” Mary Beth said. “We don’t look ahead at that stuff.”
“I try not to think about it because we don’t want these games to be our last,” Mallory said. “It hasn’t even crossed our minds.”
Despite the successes of last season, this years team has plenty of accomplishments of its own.
“I’m proud of the girls because they’ve had a lot of challenges this year,” Dixon said. “They’ve done some things this year that nobody else has done. They’ve won the Sun Prairie and Kaukauna tournaments and the Green Bay Preble tournament. They’ve won three tournaments that in the past we’ve not won in the past so that was a real positive.”
Mary Beth also added they’ve demonstrated a great deal of toughness throughout the course of the season.
To lose our first game in conference and come back and beat Notre Dame when they were 31-4 it shows their resiliency and ability to refocus,” Dixon said. “You want your kids to peak at the right time and I feel we’re doing that.”
The Ships had a few rough tournaments to counter balance the highs, but the team is better for it says Mallory.
“There was a lot of stuff we needed to figure out,” Dixon said. “Those losses allowed us to know that’s not how we wanted to play.”
Thursday will either be another stepping stone to state or an end of an era, but no matter which way it goes Dixon is just glad her and her teammates were able to prove some people wrong this season.
“There were lot of people doubting what we were capable of,” Dixon said. “Ourselves but also outsiders from our program. Sure we don’t have a big hitter like we did last year but we proved we can be one of the top ranked teams in the state.”
•Manitowoc Lincoln vs. Neenah at Oshkosh West, 7 p.m.
•Cedarburg vs. West Bend East at Oshkosh West, 5 p.m.
•Winners play Saturday at Fond du Lac