KENOSHA — The stage is set.
After registering impressive victories Thursday, the St. Catherine’s and Prairie School girls high school soccer teams will meet in a much-anticipated WIAA Division 4 sectional final at 5 p.m. Saturday at Carthage College.
St. Catherine’s is the No. 1-ranked team in Division 4 in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association Division state poll; Prairie is No. 2.
“I’m really excited about the game already,” said Prairie senior standout Megan Wolf, who scored two goals in Prairie’s 5-0 victory over University School of Milwaukee in a Division 4 sectional semifinal at Carthage.
Added St. Catherine’s senior standout Sabrina Stulo, who sparked the Angels to a 4-0 triumph over Kenosha Christian Life in the other semifinal at Carthage: “If we could play right now, I’d be ready to go. It is going to be fun.”
Prairie (16-7-1) looked like a team on a mission against University School. The Hawks had several golden scoring opportunities early in the match but didn’t get on the scoreboard until midway through the first half.
That’s when Wolf, the Hawks’ captain, scored off a header in the box. Wolf scored after a nicely placed corner kick by sophomore Sarah Johnson bounced off a defender in front of the net.
“That was an important goal,” Prairie coach Corey Oakland said. “That took the pressure off.”
It certainly did as the scoring floodgates opened for Prairie. Junior Olivia Karegeannes delivered a rocket shot from 25 yards to the upper-right post to give Prairie a 2-0 advantage at 7:27.
Wolf then scored again with 1:30 remaining in the first half after receiving a perfectly delivered pass inside the box from senior Bobbi Rooney.
“She’s been a major impact player for us,” Oakland said of Wolf. “She’s been through the grinder. There’s a reason why she’s been a high-profile player.”
If there was any doubt University School (10-9-1) would mount a serious rally, it was squelched with 19:17 remaining. That’s when junior Annabel Ware, with an assist from sophomore Charlene Gelhaus, extended the Hawks’ lead to 4-0.
With the outcome virtually settled, Oakland substituted liberally the rest of the way with senior Allie Mueller adding the final goal with 2:20 remaining.
For Wolf, it was a rewarding victory. The Hawks not only moved one win from the state tournament, but she scored a pair of goals for the first time this season.
“I was really happy about that, scoring two goals,” said Wolf, who graduated with a 3.98 grade-point average and will attend Washington University in St. Louis in the fall. “But I’m really happy for our team. We’re really coming together as a team.
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“We finally put together a nice, complete game today.”
The St. Catherine’s-Kenosha Christian Life game almost mirrored the Prairie-University School match.
The Angels (21-1-2) came out aggressively and peppered the net with shots, only to be denied by Kaylee Price, Christian Life’s goalkeeper who has accepted a scholarship to NCAA Division I Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.
The Angels finally broke through with 13:30 left in the first half when Stulo unleashed a bullet from 20 yards that Price couldn’t get a hand on.
“The first half we were trying to get into a rhythm,” St. Catherine’s coach Ben Lake said. “Their keeper was phenomenal. She kept them in the game.
“Stulo’s shot was huge. It was a confidence-builder for her and for the team.”
While the Angels struggled to score in the first half, they thoroughly dominated the second half with three goals.
Following a scramble in front of the net, junior Anna Worman alertly tapped the ball into the net with 31:42 remaining to give the Angels a 2-0 lead against Christian Life (14-8-1).
Ten minutes later, senior Devon Polk took a well-placed cross from junior Sydney Smith in the box and scored, increasing St. Catherine’s margin to 3-0.
Junior Vanessa Ramage completed the Angels’ second-half scoring surge with a wide-open goal from 20 yards with 14:26 showing.
“We played really well, getting to the 50-50 balls and getting balls out of the air,” said Stulo, who graduated with a 3.7 GPA and will attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall. “We are really clicking as a team and knowing exactly how each of us likes to play. We’re meshing well.”
The Angels realize they will need to perform as well or even better to beat Prairie in the sectional championship. Last year, the teams met in a Division 3 sectional final, with Prairie winning 3-2.
It’ll mark the third game between St. Catherine’s and Prairie this season. St. Catherine’s beat Prairie 2-1 and the teams played to a 2-2 tie in the other game.
“They have some very talented players who play well together,” Lake said of Prairie. “It should be a great game. We’ll have to play our best to win that game.”
Prairie School 5, University School 0 — Prairie goals/assists: Wolf (Johnson), Karegeannes (Ware), Wolf (Rooney), Ware (Gelhaus), Mueller (Goelz).
St. Catherine’s 4, Kenosha Christian Life 0 — Stulo, Worman (Berkowitz), Polk (Smith), Ramage.