UNION TWP. | It wasn’t exactly Alex Praschak’s 15 minutes of fame, but the Wheeler sophomore took advantage of all the time she got at Saturday’s Class A Wheeler Regional.
The Bearcat super sub saw an increased role and more minutes with Katie Reif battling a groin injury for most of the game. Praschak ended a scoreless game at the 59:27 mark and Wheeler went on to claim a 2-0 victory over Boone Grove for the program’s first regional title.
“I feel once we score we get more comfortable, and you could tell it took the pressure off,” said Praschak, who scored her eighth goal of the season. “I’m just glad I did my job and helped us out. I don’t usually start – I just wanted to help the team anyway I could.”
Wheeler (17-1-2), which captured its 13th straight victory, came in favored after a 5-0 victory over Boone Grove during the regular season. The home crowd was getting restless and concerned through 58 minutes of scoreless action before Praschak took some pressure off with a wind-blown shot that just sailed over goalie Mickey Boatwright’s fingertips and into the back of the net.
Shannon Eden added the final goal at 64:18, her ninth of the season.
Wheeler peppered the goal with 13 shots to only two for Boone Grove in the first half, but it had nothing to show for it.
“Our goal was to hold it as close we could,” Boone Grove coach Chad Roggow said. “Being the underdog, the longer you can hold the other team, the anger and the mental aspect gets to them. It worked for a while, but momentum definitely changed on (Praschak’s) goal and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I couldn’t ask more with our season and the individuals I had, especially the way we hung in there compared to the last time.”
Wheeler freshman goalkeeper Kadie Spoor got her 11th shutout of the season for the Bearcats, who are young and talented. Wheeler controlled the game throughout, but top sophomore scorers Terra Philips (20 goals, 16 assists) and Lauren Fratzke (19 goals, six assists) were held in check by a scrappy Boone Grove defense which hung in there despite allowing 19 shots on goal. Boatwright, playing her final high school game, was stellar with 10 saves.
“We are well conditioned, we don’t sub that much, and we have no problem playing (girls all) 80 minutes,” Wheeler coach Bryan Murray said. “I think you saw when the game wore on that’s when we had the advantage. It’s nice knowing we have kids who can go the distance.”