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Booters all alone in first

Wildcat defender Sierra Becker clears a ball out of her own zone in the second half of the Cats' 3-2 win over Hudson last Tuesday at Wildcat Field. River Falls went 2-0 last week to take sole possession of first place in the Big Rivers Conference. Bob Burrows photo

The Wildcat girls' soccer team remained undefeated and moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Rivers Conference with a pair of one-goal victories over Hudson and Eau Claire Memorial last week.

The Cats scored three unanswered goals, then held on for a 3-2 win over the Raiders at home last Tuesday before posting a 2-1 double overtime win Thursday at Eau Claire Memorial.

River Falls, now 4-0-0 in the BRC, 6-0-1 overall, traveled to Menomonie (1-2-0, 4-2-0) Tuesday and will play at the Onalaska Quad on Saturday.

In their latest win, the Cats got a pair of goals from Tara Frey, the second in the 96th minute, to defeat Eau Claire Memorial, 2-1.

"Memorial played a very good game," Wildcat head coach Steph Nelson said. "They were passing around us and making us have to adapt to a different game. Our first 30 minutes were not good; touch was off, communication was low, intensity was low. When Tara scored her (first) goal, the game picked up dramatically and we started playing the way we were supposed to play."

Frey's goal came in the 37th minute and was preceded by a pair of pinpoint passes from Katie Berndt to Sarah Vitale, then Vitale to a wide open Frey.

The score remained 1-0 until under two minutes remaining when Memorial (1-2-0, 2-5-0) scored to tie the game. Nelson said the Old Abes dominated the first overtime before Frey scored the game-winner after a touch pass from Bailey LaPoint.

"I love playing Memorial," Nelson said. "They always play us hard, clean and with class. Each time we play them it is a close game. It's always a great feeling to beat a quality team like them."

Paige Meyer made five saves in net in the victory.

Two days earlier, Vitale had two goals and an assist as River Falls recovered from an early 1-0 deficit to post a 3-2 win over previously undefeated Hudson (3-1-0, 3-1-0).

After the Raiders scored the first goal of the game, Vitale tied the score with an assist from LaPoint, then sent a perfect corner kick to Jen Hoffman, who nudged the ball into the net for the go-ahead goal.

Vitale's second goal of the game, assisted by Frey, put the Wildcats up 3-1 before the Raiders got a goal back to make the final 3-2.

"Sarah Vitale was a woman possessed tonight," Nelson said. "She had two other shots that clanged off posts, but she had beautiful ball played to her and she held strong and beat out their defenders."

The Cats outshot the Raiders 10-4, and Nelson credited the Wildcat defense with not allowing Hudson to get good looks at the net.

"Hudson definitely possessed the ball well tonight," she said. "They had many scoring opportunities that were diffused by our defenders. Sierra Becker played extremely well and cut off a lot.

"Hudson is always a great competitor," she added. "They work the ball well, they're fast and athletic, and they play smart. While we didn't play our best game this year, it always feels god to come out on top against a good team like Hudson."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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