The Orono Spartans have been a thorn in the side of the Watertown-Mayer girls soccer team the past few seasons. Not anymore.
Thanks to a hat trick from senior captain Maris Heun, the Royals picked up a huge 3-2 win over No. 7-ranked Orono at home Tuesday night.
“It feels amazing, W-M coach Joseph Perez said. “The kids just believe. That’s the main thing. They continue to believe. It’s been a process. Even my assistant Emma played against them for five years and she couldn’t beat them. It feels good. I’m so happy for the kids.”
While the Royals were the ones celebrating at the end, the start of the game put them in a hole early. Less than four minutes into the game, Orono took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Nora Chouanard. Just like that, W-M found themself in an early hole.
After Orono grabbed the early lead, the Spartans didn’t let up. Orono nearly made it 2-0 midway through the first half, but a great save from Hailey Volkart kept it a 1-0 game. The Royals dodged another bullet later in the first half as a goal by the Spartans was erased on an offsides call.
Despite the slow start and finding themselves in an early hole, W-M battled back.
An athletic goal from Heun got the Royals on the board with just over seven minutes left in the first half. After the slow start, W-M found themselves right there with the No. 7 team in Class A.
“I’m a big believer that when you play a team like that tied at the half, there’s hope,” Perez said. “I thought if we put one in, we could press a little harder on them. They’re not used to that situation.”
With the game tied at one at the half, all the momentum was on the Royals’ side as they controlled the tempo of the game after Heun’s first goal. With a little hop in their step in the second half, W-M turned up the pressure and made things happen offensively.
“They are so used to being the ones who dictate the pace,” Perez said. “This time around, we decided that we were not going to let that happen. Even if we lost, we were going to leave everything on the field. The girls know we don’t want to lose at home.”
Alaina Thonn took one for the team leading up the second goal of the game for the Royals. After deflecting a kick from the Orono goalie, the ball found its way to Heun who saw a wide-open net.
“I saw Alaina get hit in the face,” Heun said about her second goal. “I was worried about her, but the ball went up and the first thing I noticed was the goalie was not in the net. Against these good teams, you never know how many chances you’re going to get. With those chances, you need to put them away. I saw there wasn’t a goalie in the goal and I knew I just had to hit it.”
Heun found the back of the net for her second goal of the game, giving W-M a 2-1 lead in the process.
“She continues to amaze me every game,” Perez said about Heun. “She’s so humble, yet so hungry. I’m just super proud of her. I’m just glad she’s on my side.”
W-M then had a chance to extend their led to 3-1, but a nice save ultimately led to a goal for the Spartans. After the save, Orono wasted no time as Tess Bazil tied the game at two with just under six minutes to play.
Settling for a tie would have been a nice outcome for the Royals, but that’s not what they did. Despite Orono tying the game up late, W-M kept pushing.
“We were still hungry,” Perez said. “We went for more. We persevered and overcame.”
For the third time, Heun delivered with another goal off a throw-in, giving W-M a 3-2 lead with under three minutes left to play.
“We definitely played with a lot of heart,” Heun said. “We played with passion and you saw it on the field. We were talking and playing together. None of this could have come without that. We got to come together. We got to come to play. We beat Orono. It’s just amazing.”
The Royals took care of the ball the rest of the way, sealing an exciting and huge win they’ve been working for all season long.
“It feels wonderful,” Heun said. “I’m so proud of all of us tonight. We’ve been shooting for this for so long. This is just so good. We have eight seniors this year. It’s wonderful.”
It was a big win in many ways for W-M. Not only did they stay unbeaten on the season, but they also showed they can fight back against one of the top teams in the conference.
“I think it’s good to have this kind of game,” Perez said. “It’s good to have games where you got to overcome and fight back. They had never been in that position this year. Today, they showed that they’re ready for bigger things.”
The bigger things W-M will look to accomplish include fighting for a conference title. They’ll look to build off the big win and keep things rolling as they return to play Thursday, Sept. 24 against Holy Family.
“I’m hoping we can,” Heun said about using this win going forward. “We got our eyes set on everyone. We’re going for conference champs this year.”