The Sacred Heart Gremlins scored in the 26th minute and then withstood a barrage of chances in the second half, beating St. Paul Lutheran 1-0 on Tuesday in a Class 1, District 9 girls soccer semifinal at Clover Dell Park.
The Saints kept the pressure on through most of the second half and had several good chances. In the 45th minute, Rebecca Roepe got through the Gremlin defense before Sydney Bogue cleared her shot away. A shot from Roepe in the 50th minute hit one post and then rolled along the goal-line without going in. Moments later a Cameron Kramer shot was saved. Roepe had another chance in the 70th minute before three Gremlin defenders converged to deny her a shot on goal.
“They had great kicks over the top,” said Gremlins keeper Isabelle Wilhelm. “I was trying to watch people running over, just trying to shut down to make sure their forwards didn’t get to it.”
Wilhelm came through with save after save in the second half. A diving stop denied a shot from 30 yards out in the 46th minute.
“Izzy had a great game,” said Sacred Heart coach Travis Cooper. “Izzy was out the last game with an injury. She’s about 75 percent now and came up big for us. She made a couple of key saves which is what we expect our keepers to do. There’s going to be a couple that get through and Izzy stepped up big when we needed her to.”
St. Paul tried to get past Wilhelm with several long free kicks off the foot of Hadley Rolf, but no Saints teammates would get to the ball before Wilhelm.
“I was just waiting and seeing if someone got there,” Wilhelm said.
While St. Paul had most of the chances in the second half, Sacred Heart had most of the opportunities in the first. After a back-and-forth opening 10 minutes, the Gremlins kept possession in the Saints’ end, eventually getting the goal they needed.
An initial shot from Honor Kehde in the 26th minute was saved, but bobbled. Sacred Heart freshman Shelby Bain gathered the rebound and found the net to make it 1-0.
“In the first half we possessed it a little bit better, kept it away from them and made them chase us a bit more,” Cooper said.
Sacred Heart had a chance to add to the lead in the 29th minute when Kehde got past the keeper, but Saints defender Breanna Vogelsmeier got back to clear the ball away. Moments later a long run from Gabby Holland ended with St. Paul keeper Hannah Gillet making a save.
Sacred Heart advances to face Clinton in the district championship game at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Clover Dell Park. A Gremlins team that was less than full strength fell to the Cardinals 3-0 last week.
“Clinton’s got a couple of girls up top that have some speed,” Cooper said. “They like to play to them. We’ll look to shut those two down and just possess and play our game.”