MERRILLVILLE | Rain canceled the Kankakee Valley girls soccer team’s senior night last Thursday.
The nonconference tilt with Chesterton became impossible to make up, so the eight graduating Kougars, with no remaining home games, will be honored during halftime of a boys team home game on Oct. 2.
Between now and then they’ll celebrate their final season on the pitch at every match they play.
Senior leading scorer Hannah Wilder made sure the party continued with three goals and two assists as the Times No. 3 Kougars remained unbeaten with a 6-0 win over No. 7 Andrean Tuesday in a Northwest Crossroads Conference match on Andrean’s senior night.
K.V. clinched a share of the NCC title with the win.
“We missed our senior night, but we were just talking about how this is our last season together,” Wilder said. “There’s no looking back after this. No saying we should have done something different.”
Although the Kougars (12-0, 5-0) feel they could have improved Tuesday night, especially with a huge meeting with Crown Point looming Thursday, they were faster and bigger than the 59ers (7-5, 3-2). K.V. spent the majority of the night on the attack.
Although Wilder, a Drake recruit, had a huge night, upping her season total to 20 goals, she credited her team’s offensive diversity from the various corners of the 18-yard box.
Haleigh Wenglarz had two assists and a goal, and Natalie Lotz and Raegan Walther added tallies for K.V., which led 2-0 at halftime.
“It’s a lot easier when you have people around you to score,” Wilder said. “I can’t cross and score at the same time. We’ve got to use each other in the box.”
Although she claimed she couldn’t cross and score herself, Wilder kind of did. She swung a would-be pass from her left to her right, and it bounced off an Andrean defender and into the goal.
That was her third goal of the night, and it put the Kougars up 5-0 in the 54th minute. It capped a three-goal barrage that spanned fewer than eight minutes.
“I feel like (the offensive diversity) makes us more unpredictable in terms of who needs to be covered,” K.V. coach Alex Conklin said. “(Our speed) is something we’ve worked on, and some of these kids just have naturally gifted-from-God speed.
"Our weight training and speed work in two-a-days comes in handy.”
While K.V. starts five seniors, Andrean starts that many freshmen and had just one senior honored for its brief senior night at halftime.
Defender Kathleen Salter came to the team relatively inexperienced and fought for a spot and sparse playing time for each of her three years. Now she’s occasionally starting and getting her due.
Salter helped the 59ers make the Kougars battle in a physical contest.
“We have a group of fighters, and we’re going to go head to head with anyone,” Andrean coach Tony Pagorek said. “We went toe to toe with them and played a physical match.”