SPRING GREEN — The Platteville/Lancaster girls soccer team took sole possession of first place in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference with a 3–1 victory at River Valley last Tuesday afternoon.
The Hillmen rallied from a 1–0 halftime deficit by scoring three goals in the final 26 minutes to hand the host Blackhawks (8–2, 4–1 SWC) their first conference loss of the season.
“The key to the game was our confidence and our persistence,” said Hillmen head coach Brandon Pink. “We struggled a bit early on, and allowed River Valley to score first. In those circumstances it can be very easy to let your play devolve, and get frustrated with yourself and your teammates. We didn’t do any of those things. We kept our heads on straight, established our passing rhythm, got control of the midfield, and just kept hammering away until finally the goals started to go in. I’m very proud of the girls for showing that type of mentality.”
River Valley scored in the seventh minute on a Carly Fleming goal assisted by Rose Askwold, but it was just one of two shots on goal that sophomore goalkeeper Sami Knockel would face in the match.
The Hillmen regrouped at the half and took control of play in the second half, ultimately outshooting River Valley 10–2 in the match.
The Platteville co-op finally got on the scoreboard in the 65th minute when junior forward Sami Brookens set up Lancaster senior Bri Hampton for the equalizer. Seven minutes later Brookens took a pass from Lancaster junior Lauren Thole and beat the Valley keeper for a 2–1 lead. Brookens added an unassisted goal in the 79th minute.
Pink’s Hillmen remained unbeaten in SWC play with a 2–0 win over visiting Richland Center Thursday afternoon.
Platteville/Lancaster scored twice in the first three minutes and despite not finding the back of the net the rest of the match, dominated throughout on the way to an SWC shutout of the Hornets.
Thole scored on an assisted from junior Jenna Vogel a minute into the game. Vogel assisted on Platteville’s next goal two minutes later when Brookens found the back of the net at the 2:55 mark of the first half.
While the Hillmen struggled to convert any goals the rest of the way they controlled the ball and pace of play, outshooting the Hornets 21–1. Richland Center’s Summer Heron made 19 saves to keep the score close.
“One of the things I tell the girls in every pregame huddle is to jump out right from the start and define the tone of the game,” said Pink. “We try very hard to be proactive, and Thursday night we did that. Our play was very strong in the first half, but through a combination of some unlucky shot placement and some very fine saves by Center, we were only up 2–0. In contrast to our great start, we weren’t able to finish the game off. A third goal would have taken the edge out of the game but we couldn’t get one to drop. That didn’t come back to bite us, but it very well might in the future. It’s an area we still need to improve on.”
With the win Platteville/Lancaster improved to 7–2–1 overall and 5–0 in the SWC, the last remaining unbeaten in league play. Richland Center fell to 4–7, 3–2.
“We’re proud,” said Pink of being the last unbeaten team in the SWC. “It’s nice to see our hard work on the training field translate into consistent performances and the ability to get results/ We know that we’re only halfway there, though. The last thing that we want to do is to lose focus, so we’re continuing to take it one game at a time and trying to approach every match like it’s the conference decider.”
The Hillmen will return to action Thursday at Dodgeville/Mineral Point (5–9, 4–2 SWC) before traveling to Reedsburg for a non-conference game on Friday and hosting Monroe on Tuesday.
River Valley 1
(from Tuesday, May 3 @ Spring Green)
Platteville/Lancaster 0 3 — 3
River Valley 1 0 — 1
First half — RV: Carly Fleming (Rose Askwold) 7:00.
Second half — P/L: Bri Hampton (Sami Brookens) 65:00, Brookens (Lauren Thole) 72:00, Brookens, 79:00.
Saves — P/L: Sami Knockel 1; RV: Aleah O’Dell 7. Shots on Goal — P/L: 10; RV: 2. Corner kicks — P/L: 2, RV: 2.
Richland Center 0
(from Thursday, May 5 @ Platteville)
Richland Center 0 0 — 0
Platteville/Lancaster 2 0 — 2
First half — P/L: Lauren Thole (Jenna Vogel) 1:00, Sami Brookens (Vogel) 2:55.
Second half — none.
Saves — P/L: Sami Knockel 1; RC: Summer Heron 19. Shots on Goal — P/L: 21; RC: 1. Corner kicks — P/L: 3, RC: 0.