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MILWAUKEE — The sixth time was the charm for The Prairie School girls soccer team Saturday.

The Hawks broke their string of five runner-up finishes in the WIAA State Tournament, winning the first gold ball for girls soccer by a Racine County school with a 1-0 victory over La Crosse Aquinas in the Division 4 championship game at Uihlein Soccer Park.

“It’s real — the dream came true,” said senior midfielder Sarah Johnson, one of five Hawks who played on the 2013 team, the previous Prairie team to reach a state final. “It’s good it finally happened and we put everything into it. There’s not a better feeling.”

Hannah Compernolle’s goal in the 23rd minute was the only score Prairie (23-4) needed as the defense finished the season with perhaps its best performance of the season.

The Blugolds (23-2), last year’s Division 4 champions, were never able to get a good look at the net and Hawks sophomore goalkeeper Quinn Shannon had to make just three saves. The toughest save she had was on a free kick by Aquinas early in the second half, but that one was directly at her.

“When we got that goal, I honestly felt pretty confident knowing the four we had back there (senior defenders Jordynn Gottwald, Cali Pfleger, Charlene Gelhaus, junior Olivia Carpenter), and Quinn and (midfielder) Katie (Koker) sitting in front of them,” Prairie coach Corey Oakland said. “The entire team plays defense, from forwards to the midfielders to the defenders, to the ’keeper.

“They all work together to limit chances, and they did a fantastic job today — they earned us a championship.”

In the 23rd minute, Compernolle, a sophomore forward, received a slot pass between two defenders from junior forward Rachel Gentile about 30 yards from the goal. Compernolle stayed onside, outran the defenders and put the ball past Aquinas goalkeeper Sydney Ion from 15 feet at 22:46. Ion allowed only four goals all season.

Compernolle and Gentile were former club soccer teammates, they’re good friends — and they obviously still have great chemistry.

“It was a beautiful ball by Rachel,” Compernolle said. “I couldn’t ask for a better ball from her.”

Gentile, a junior forward, said she knew if the play went right, Compernolle would not be denied.

“I knew if I could get to that ball, she could get to the place (she needed to be),” Gentile said. “That’s what we do. It was just effort.”

Like Oakland, Compernolle felt comfortable with a 1-0 lead, knowing who was playing behind her.

“I felt really safe,” Compernolle said. “The defense played amazing. It was great to watch.”

The player most concerning to the Hawks was Blugolds sophomore forward Nora Reuteman, who scored 23 goals during the regular season. She was credited with just one shot on goal and the Hawks choked off the box on virtually every other attacking run by Aquinas.

“We try to stay as tight as we can,” said Pfleger, another senior who played on the 2013 team. We’re like a mini family within our big family of a team. Communication is key with us.”

Aquinas coach James Lockley was gracious in defeat.

“They were a very strong team all over the field,” Lockley said. “But we’ve proved ourselves all year. Our record shows that and it’s the same with them.

“I always thought it was going to come down to this, but I wasn’t sure who was going to win. The better team won (today).”

Compernolle said that most of the players, and many parents, have been talking all season about winning a state title. The championship also finally gives the girls some bragging rights of their own.

“Now they can’t give us any more crap for it,” Compernolle said of the boys’ team, which has five WIAA titles and two runner-up finishes. “Now we have one.”

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