LEO-CEDARVILLE – Bishop Dwenger got Concordia “done and over with,” as Saints senior forward Mackenzie Christle put it, beating the No. 16 Cadets 2-0 in the first round of the Class 2A Leo Sectional on Tuesday.
“It really sets the tone for the rest of the tournament,” Bishop Dwenger coach James Ewing said. “Every team that they play from this point on is going to be playing their 'A' game, and they need to be ready. This is a great match for us to start off with.”
The No. 9 Saints (7-4-1) and Concordia (10-4-3) were the top two teams in the SAC this season, with Bishop Dwenger dealing the Cadets their only regular-season loss against a conference opponent. But now Concordia is eliminated from the tournament and the Saints are set to play Columbia City on Thursday, with No. 17 Leo lurking in the other semifinal.
The Saints dominated possession for much of the first half and had multiple close calls at the net, including multiple shots by sophomore midfielder Ellen Hartzog that went just wide or just high of the net. The game was scoreless at halftime, but Bishop Dwenger seemed confident that one of those chances would eventually pay off.
“We just talked to the girls and said be patient, don't lose confidence in your ability,” Ewing said. “It's going to come, just keep pressing, just keep pushing.”
That break finally came with 21:15 to go in the second half. Christle delivered a corner kick right in front of the net, and McKenna Kleinrichert got a foot on it and put it right past the Concordia keeper.
“That was a very exciting goal, to be honest,” Christle said. “I crossed it in from the corner, and my teammate McKenna Kleinrichert was right there in the middle. And she just volleyed it in with her foot.”
Less than five minutes later, the Cadets were called for a hand-ball in the box and Bishop Dwenger was awarded a penalty kick, whichjunior defender Erynn Burns nailed to put the Saints up 2-0.
“She did a great job with finishing it, because it is a lot of pressure just to be set just between her and the goalkeeper,” Christle said.
The Saints beat Concordia by the same 2-0 margin in the regular season, though Christle said this game felt different than their first meeting.
“Since it is the first game of sectionals, there was a lot of pressure on both teams, and that definitely transferred onto the field,” Christle said. “That made us play really hard, which made the game even more fun to play.”