WATERTOWN – There was a lot on the line Tuesday night as the Watertown-Mayer and Waconia girls soccer teams met. A win for the Royals would clinch their first conference title in school history. A win for Waconia would leave the Royals searching for that elusive conference title.
Neither of those scenarios happened as the Waconia Wildcats scored a late goal in traffic to force a 1-1 tie against the Royals Tuesday night. With the tie, Waconia can secure the conference title with a win over New Prague Thursday night.
“As a coach, I could not ask for more,” W-M coach Joseph Perez said. “It’s emotional because I know how much work they put in. To us, it’s a loss. Anyway you look at it, it’s a loss. We’ll take the tie, though. They know we battled and had the lead. We had plenty of opportunities to put it away and we didn’t. That’s how it goes sometimes. As a coach, I couldn’t be more proud.”
The Royals couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. On a throw-in from Mercedes Burmeister, Hailey Bogema found the back of the net through traffic to give the Royals a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
“It kind of changed the game,” Perez said about scoring early. “They are not used to playing from behind. You can tell that they were pressing. If they’re pressing, more errors will come. They were rattled and a bit nervous, but they’re a good team. They can battle, too. Credit to them for not giving up.
After W-M controlled things throughout the first half, Waconia began to put the pressure on in the second half. After the Wildcats, a team that averages more than four goals per game were held off the scoreboard in the first half, but W-M goalkeeper Hailey Volkart knew things would pick up in the second half.
“Before this game, I was just thinking all positive thoughts,” Volkart said about her mindset coming into the game. “Anything you think will probably come true. Just positive thoughts and hard work.”
Volkart finished with 12 saves in the tie. The biggest save of the night came on a penalty kick with just over four minutes to go.
“I was thinking no way we just did that,” Volkart said about the save. “It could have possibly saved the game, Of course, they scored right after, but it was a great feeling.”
For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Friday, Oct. 9 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.
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