The Verona girls soccer team left the pitch Thursday, April 18, showing it could contend with Middleton for a Big Eight championship.
The Wildcats couldn’t get a leg up in the conference after a 1-0 loss to Craig on Tuesday, April 23, in Janesville.
Verona 1, Middleton 1
Sparked by junior forward Hanna Steiner’s first-half goal and freshman goalkeeper Elsa Queoff, Verona tied No. 1-ranked Middleton 1-1 at Reddan Soccer Park. The Cardinals are now 3-0-1 this year.
It left Verona (2-3-1 overall, 1-1-1 Big Eight) trails Janesville Craig (3-0) atop the conference.
“I think we can play with anyone in the conference,” coach Jen Faulkner said. “I think we have a lot of talent and skill. We have to learn to play with confidence and play a full 90 minutes. We haven’t done that yet.”
When Verona plays Middleton over the past decade it’s been a rivalry. The Wildcats were 6-6-1 the past nine years against the Cardinals before Thursday’s victory. That includes back-to-back tournament losses to Middleton in 2014 and 2015. The last time Verona beat Middleton was in 2017, when the Wildcats clipped them in a regional final 1-0.
Steiner scored her goal in the 21st minute on an assist from sophomore defender Kirsten Poppen to tie the game 1-1.
“We all celebrated because it was great to score against Middleton,” Steiner said. “I was just there at the right time, and my teammates just cheered me on and I got there.”
Steiner said she wished they could have played overtime to determine a winner as would happen in the state tournament.
“I think we would have had it toward the end,” she said. “We kept pushing with those through balls. We worked really well as a team. We had great passing and communication. “I think it will really boost our confidence for the next couple of games.”
The Wildcats had some opportunities to win in the final 15 minutes on some throw-ins and through balls. Queoff made a diving save on a shot that popped out of her rams before she pounced on it with about 8 minutes left. The Cardinals had an opportunity on a direct kick in the final 5 minutes, but the Wildcats’ back line rose to the occasion.
Faulkner said Middleton goalkeeper made some great saves.
“We had our chances to get ahead,” Faulkner said. “When we have a little more time to train we will build some more confidence and composure. I think with confidence and composure we will give them another good game later in the season.”
Verona goalkeeper Elsa Queoff had five saves.
“I think she’s getting better every game,” Faulkner said. “She’s coming out of her shell and starting to talk and communicate. She’s coming out of the net and starting to stop angles.”
Faulkner said she was proud of the team’s performance in the early-season conference game.
“The girls matched the level of physicality Middleton brings,” Faulkner said. “One thing we have been working to do is to step up and play strong and physical. I think the girls stepped up and matched that intensity in the second half.”
Craig 1, Verona 0
Craig’s Savanna Dare scored the lone goal to clip the Wildcats 1-0 on Tuesday.
Verona had nine shots on goal. After the loss, the Wildcats drop into fourth place in the conference.
With the win, Craig, which beat Verona in a regional final last year 2-0, remains on top in the conference at 3-0.
No other information was available at press time.