Sacred Heart girls soccer coach Travis Cooper didn’t want Clinton to be able to see everything the Gremlins would try to do.
The Gremlins (6-5-1) played six players out of position and started freshman Rachel Ulbrich in goal in a 3-0 loss to Clinton Thursday at Clover Dell Park, but there is a chance the teams will see each other soon. Sacred Heart and Clinton are on opposite sides of the Class 1, District 9 bracket and could meet in the district championship game next week.
“We didn’t put all our cards on the table,” Cooper said. “Some of our gameplan was with that in mind if we do see Clinton again, but they have to get there and so do we.”
Clinton’s three goals all came in the first half with the first two on free kicks. Sydney Hunter quickly took a free kick just outside the penalty area in the 12th minute and found the net. In the 30th minute Dani Penfield connected on a free kick from 40 yards out.
“Just some mis-played balls, (we) were a little unprepared for some things,” Cooper said.
Ulbrich saw her first start in net for the Gremlins, giving Isabelle Wilhelm a night off.
“We gave her a run to see how she was going to do, get her some experience,” Cooper said.
Clinton added a third goal in the 32nd minute. Sidney Hager crossed a ball for Adriane Dehn which Ulbrich got to first but Sacred Heart failed to clear and Hager got the ball back on her foot, finding the net for a 3-0 lead.
Sacred Heart’s defense clamped down in the second half, deflecting several shots and having one scoring chance from Dehn cleared off the line by Gabby Holland.
For the final 30 minutes of the game, Sacred Heart had most of the quality chances, but could never break through.
“In the first half we didn’t stay connected real well,” Cooper said. “We were letting too many balls get through. If you don’t have some of the experience you’re used to having, you can’t play the ball back like we do, so we got caught a little bit off guard. Second half they adjusted a lot more and kept everything in front, kept everything clean. We just couldn’t find the back of the net with that combination.”
Much of the Sacred Heart offense ran through Honor Kehde, moving up from her usual position at midfield to forward. In the 56th minute she found Lauron Tanguay with a pass but Tanguay’s shot hit the post. In the 66th minute, Kehde made a move to get around Clinton center back Laurel Dehn before the Cardinal defender tackled it away. Moments later Kehde had another chance that was pushed wide. On the ensuing corner kick, Kehde again got the ball and her shot went wide.
“We were looking for her to hold the ball and hopefully find some runners,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately we just didn’t connect. She was holding the ball a lot longer than she’s used to holding the ball.”
Sarced Heart will open the district tournament at 7 p.m. Tuesday against St. Paul Lutheran, the team that eliminated the Gremlins in double overtime in last year’s district final. Clinton will face Stover in the other district semifinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday.