LAKEVILLE — One team made history. For the other, it was simply more of the same.
Both local girls soccer teams stayed alive in the Class A LaVille Regional.
Wheeler continued its undefeated season with a 19th consecutive victory, 5-0 over LaVille to open regional play from Newton Park. Boone Grove beat Westview 2-1 to notch its first regional win in school history all without the help of four starters.
Inclement weather postponed the championship match. Wheeler and Boone Grove will meet at 7 p.m. Monday for the crown.
“I’m shocked,” Boone Grove coach Ken Burbridge said. “These girls persevered. It was an amazing job that they were able to push through there. ... It’s unbelievable they got this far.”
Few encompassed that attitude more than freshman forward Lexi Darnell. The attacking forward missed a chance at an open goal 8 minutes in with a shot wide of frame and later in the half came fractions of a second late behind the Westview keeper to a ball in front of the net.
Darnell was visibly frustrated after both efforts. A conversation with teammates during a scoreless halftime reminded her that she needed to keep her head up and cash in on the next opportunities.
Just two minutes into the second half, Darnell scores the game’s first goal off an assist from senior Lauren Casbon. Then, after Westview tied it up in the 55th minute, Darnell broke through with 6 minutes remaining with a game-winning score off an assist from senior Hannah Wojtyska in transition.
“I don’t think there could have been a better pass there from Hannah,” Darnell said describing her 38th goal on the season. “It straight split the defense. It was pretty much me versus the goalie. It was exactly what you want.”
Darnell’s two goals made the difference in a game where Westview outshot Boone Grove 13-7. Wolves goalkeeper Ambur Ecklund made seven saves during the match with a youth-filled back line in front of her.
“Defensively, all game, we just played so hard,” Darnell said. “It kept us together when we needed it.”
Earlier in the day, there was far less drama throughout Wheeler’s five-goal shutout victory against LaVille in a matchup of the state-ranked No. 1 Bearcats and No. 2 Lancers. A pair of LaVille first-half own goals proved to be more than enough support for Wheeler to remain unbeaten.
Credit the Bearcat defense for that. Senior goalkeeper Cheyenne Foor defended just one Lancer shot the entire match as the rest of the defense and midfield made it nearly impossible for LaVille to get into the final third.
“We all just got behind the ball, stayed connected and talked,” senior defender Kaitlyn Asher said. “We moved together as one and never really slipped too much.”
Asher was there to stop the ball on a number of occasions after missing sectionals. Her efforts, combined with the rest of the Bearcats in front of the net, didn’t go unnoticed by head coach Bryan Murray.
“Kaitlyn was able to play and played really well for us. They all did back there,” Murray said. “That was huge.”
While the defense did the heavy lifting, Wheeler’s offense woke up with three second-half goals in a span of just seven minutes to put the game well out of reach. Sophomore Riley Garcia, junior Lyric Green and freshman Morgan Putz all penciled their names in the scoresheets.
Postgame, a number of Bearcats could be heard saying variations of “one more down” as they huddled together. They kept the celebration short knowing their work, like Boone Grove’s, wasn’t done.
“No words. I have no words,” Asher said. “We’re going to keep going.”