Verona senior Gannon Simonett had a goal and an assist to propel the Wildcats to a 3-1 win over Madison Memorial in a Division 1 regional championship on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Reddan Soccer Park.
It’s the second straight year Verona has won a regional title and only the third in program history. It comes after the Wildcats won the Big Eight Conference title for the second straight year.
“It’s fantastic being on this team and making it to the regional final and winning it,” Verona junior forward Jonathan Gamez said. “I’m proud of my team.”
To get to the sectional, the Wildcats had to knock off the Spartans for the second time this season. Verona entered the regional averaging 3.9 goals per game, and got off to a fast start.
Senior midfielder Jack Knight put the Wildcats on the board with a goal in the second minute on an assist from Simonett. Twenty minutes later, Madison Memorial’s Dominick Ramirez scored to tie the game at 1.
Simonett scored the go-ahead goal in the 29th minute on an assist by Diego Luna. Gamez headed in an insurance goal off a free kick by Sam Abreu in the 81st minute.
The Wildcats outshot the Spartans 17-6 (10-4 on goal). Verona senior goalkeeper Nate Hanson had four saves.
“You could tell in the second half they really found their composure and really wanted it,” Wildcats coach Chris Handrick said.
Verona 10, Janesville Parker 0
The Wildcats blasted past the Vikings in the regional semifinals Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Reddan Soccer Park.
Verona’s defense did not allow a shot, and the offense recorded 28 shots (18 on goal).
Jorge Lagunas netted a hat trick in the first half, scoring in the 26th, 30th and 34th minute. Eliot Popkewitz scored in the 12th minute, then added insurance goals in the 56th and 63rd minute for his hat trick. Popkewitz and Gamez also had two assists apiece.
Knight had two goals (10th and 38th minute) and an assist. Sam Lynch scored in the 31st minute, and Jack Heilman scored the Wildcats’ eighth goal of the first half in the 40th minute. Luna, Bennett Luttinen, Ryan Love and Alex Sarabia each had an assist. Sectional preview
Verona (17-1-2) will host Middleton in the Division 1 Sun Prairie Sectional semifinals on Thursday. The Cardinals upset seventh-ranked Oconomowoc 2-0 in a regional final.
“We will work hard every practice to prepare for the game and take it to them,” Gamez said.
The Wildcats beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Sept. 24. As the top seed in the sectional this year, Handrick isn’t afraid about the moment becoming too big for his team. The Wildcats, ranked third in Division 1 in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association Poll, are ready for the challenge.
“It really didn’t get in their heads,” Handrick said of being the top seed. “They knew they had to take care of every step along the way. Being seeded No. 1 doesn’t make us anxious or nervous. The boys know we will take care of every step.”