Ella Hughes took her coach’s advice about crashing the net to heart.
With a scoreless tie 41 minutes into Oregon's WIAA Division 2 state girls soccer semifinal, the senior forward corralled the ball from a deflected shot by junior forward Ashley Hanon and powered a goal past Brookfield East goalkeeper Shannon Coryell. Combined with a defense that earned its 15th shutout of the season, that goal was the only score Oregon needed to advance to the title game with a 2-0 victory over Brookfield East on Thursday, June 13, at Kohler Engines Stadium at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
“It was a two-touch moment,” Hughes said. “It was a really good ball into the middle. Someone just had to touch it, and it ended up being me.”
The Spartans’ defense had been tough to crack for most of the first half.
“It was a huge relief that we could relax a little bit,” Hughes said. “We are usually pretty tense starting out games.”
Oregon (17-0-1), ranked second in the Division 2 Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association state poll, advances to play top-ranked Whitefish Bay at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the championship.
"If you look at the rankings, this is how it’s been all year," coach Nelson Brownell said. "This is the game that should be the state championship.”
It’s the third time in the past five years the Panthers have played in the title game. Last year, Oregon finished as the state runner-up losing 2-0 to Brookfield Central. The Panthers last won the title in 2015. Oregon lost to Whitefish Bay 3-1 in the 2017 semifinals.
“We are not satisfied with getting second place this year,” Brownell said. “We want that gold ball back in Oregon. We will fight as much as we can for 90 minutes Saturday on this field."
Brownell said Hughes and Hanson did a great job of crashing the net on the first goal.
“We never know if there is going to be a rebound,” he said. “We don’t know if the goalkeeper will drop it out of her hands. We have to make sure our forwards and attacking mids are in a spot that they are able to finish the ball.”
The state title will be Brownell’s final game coaching the Panthers, as he will be moving to Washington in July. Hughes wants to send Brownell and the seniors out as champions.
“Nelson has done so much for us,” Hughes said. “We just really wanted to make him proud this year. I think so far we have.”
Junior Kaitlyn Schrimpf scored on a breakaway at 63:14 to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. The Panthers outshot the Spartans on goal 6-3. Junior goalkeeper Melia Moyer had three saves.
One more shutout this year would tie the school record.
Hughes is looking forward to playing Whitefish Bay for the title on Saturday.
“That’s all we hope or every year,” Hughes said. “To be a senior and have the opportunity to go play in the state championship is so awesome.”