WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Assumption girls soccer has made a Cinderella run to the state tournament. And unfortunately for Regis/McDonell, the Saints were on the wrong side of the impressive feat.
The Royals scored twice in the first half, getting the eventual game-winning tally in the first five minutes, to best Regis/McDonell and pull off a No. 1/4 upset in the sectional finals Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids.
“They’ve got some really talented athletes,” Regis/McDonell coach Scott Hoffmann said. “We knew coming in we would have a challenge in front of us. ... The better team won today, honestly. Assumption is a really good team. I wish them well in state.”
Assumption controlled possession in the first 45 minutes, opening the scoring in the fifth minute. Saints goalie Anna Allen made an initial save after a cross from the right side found a Royal foot, but Kayla Kerkman was in good position to put home the rebound.
Clara Kubis doubled the deficit in the 34th minute when she was able to weave through traffic in and around the box to fire home a shot.
“Speed kills in soccer, and so does skill with speed,” Hoffmann said. “Assumption’s got quite a bit of that.”
The Saints upped their possession in the second half, getting a handful more opportunities to score than they did in the first, but weren’t able to solve Assumption’s Kate Eithun for a second straight meeting.
“I pulled a third (defensive midfielder) back,” Assumption coach Jim Wendels said of his second half adjustments. “I don’t always like to do that, because we never spend any time on the attacking half, but they were coming at us pretty strong. We had to defend it.”
While the Saints were the favorite on paper, coming in as the No. 1 seed in their half of the sectional, there were factors pointing in the direction of Assumption. The sectional was prescheduled to be played in Assumption’s hometown, Wisconsin Rapids, for starters. And the Royals did quite well the first time these two squads met this season, besting Regis/McDonell 4-0.
Assumption will play at the state tournament for the third time in program history, its first appearance since 2014. To get here, the Royals had to knock off a pair of No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed.
“Sometimes that fuels the fire,” Wendels said of the Royals’ low seeding. “Sometimes we can’t resolve things on paper. We do it on the field. We used that as a bit of motivation. These girls stepped up. It was a tough road to get here, but we’ve conditioned and trained for it. I’m just so proud of them for doing that.”
The Saints, who were looking to make their first state appearance since 2018, were tested mightily in the postseason. Regis/McDonell needed a tying goal with 17 seconds remaining in the sectional semis, allowing the team to eventually pull off a shootout victory to stay alive for Saturday’s matchup. Regis/McDonell graduates four seniors – Allen, Chelsea Schaf, Sydnee Yengo and Gabby Bergum – but for the most part it is a young group that should benefit from this season’s playoff excursion.
“I sure hope it has a lot of value going forward,” Hoffmann said. “We’ve got a lot of young talent on the team. We’re going to miss our seniors – midfield, defense and our senior goalkeeper captain. We’re going to miss her a lot. Anna played unbelievable today. But I told the girls, ‘This is what we play for every year.’ I hope the younger girls do what it takes to get back here next year.”
Altoona duo reaches state semis
Dan Harris and Ty Rondestvedt had a memorable end to their tennis season over the weekend.
The Altoona doubles team made a run to the state semifinals in Division 2, winning their first three matches of the individual state tournament in Kohler. The two fell to University School’s Andrew Bechthold and Shaan Sharma 6-3, 6-0 in the state semis. They went on to finish in fourth place at the tournament.
The Rails team won a pair of thrillers to reach the semifinals, knocking out both a Shorewood team and a Catholic Memorial duo in third-set tiebreakers on Friday.
The fourth-place finish was the best by an Altoona doubles team since the turn of the century. The duo finished the season with a 19-5 record.
In Division 1, Eau Claire Memorial’s Ethan Beckermann reached the singles Round of 16 before falling to West De Pere’s Elijah Zifferblatt 6-1, 6-3. The Old Abes finished the spring with an 18-11 record.
Bednarek makes Trials debut
Rice Lake alumnus Kenny Bednarek narrowly missed out on qualifying for the United States Olympic Team in track and field on Sunday.
Bednarek made his Olympic Trials debut in the men’s 100-meter dash over the weekend. Despite the 100 being a secondary event for the sprinter — he stars in the 200 — he came within milliseconds of booking a trip to the Tokyo Olympics.
Bednarek took fourth in the 100 finals at 9.89 seconds, missing out from one of the three Olympic qualifying spots by 0.03 seconds. That was the margin he finished behind Fred Kerly, who clocked in at 9.86 seconds. Trayvon Bromell won the event with a time of 9.80 seconds.
Next weekend will feature the 200, Bednarek’s signature event. He’s expected to be a top contender to get to Tokyo as one of the top 200 sprinters in the world.
UW-Eau Claire track and field assistant coaches Curtis Jensen and Roger Steen both made the finals in the shot put. Jensen placed eighth, throwing a season-best 20.62 meters, while Steen set a personal record at 20.41 meters to take ninth.