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Booters regional champs

Wildcat midfielder Emily Blasius collides with Superior goalkeeper Marissa Foley as Foley hangs on to the ball in the first half of the Cats' WIAA regional soccer semifinal game against the Spartans Thursday at Wildcat Field. Blasius tallied a goal later in the game to help the Wildcats to a 7-0 victory. Bob Burrows photo

Add another first to the Wildcat girls' soccer team's list of accomplishments this season.

After winning the first Big Rivers Conference championship in school history, the Cats picked up their first WIAA regional championship with a 3-1 victory over Chippewa Falls Saturday.

The regional title earned the top-seeded Wildcats, now 15-1-3 on the season, the right to host No. 2 seed Eau Claire Memorial (12-8-0) in a sectional semifinal Thursday at 5 p.m. at Wildcat Field. The winner will face either Wausau East (16-1-2) or D.C. Everest (16-6-2) on Saturday in Wausau for a berth in the WIAA State Girls Soccer Championships June 17-19 in Milwaukee.

Last Saturday, on a rainy Wildcat Field against No. 4 seeded Chippewa Falls, Sarah Vitale scored a pair of goals and Roxie Fusilier added another as the Cats clinched the regional title with a 3-1 victory.

"Sarah Vitale had two absolutely beautiful goals and almost had another one," River Falls coach Steph Nelson said. "The entire team played a great game."

Bailey LaPoint assisted on Vitale's first goal and Emily Blasius earned an assist on the second while Julia Bump assisted on the goal by Fusilier.

Nelson said the playing conditions were less than ideal, but the Cats, who outshot the Cardinals 10-4, made the best of it.

"We played great considering," she said. "Our touch was obviously off but we had great passing plays, great overall defense, and our finishing was on the spot."

River Falls advanced to the regional title game with a 7-0 victory over eighth-seeded Superior last Tuesday at Wildcat Field.

Ella Bump had a hat trick and assisted on a goal by Vitale while Vitale had an assist on the game's final goal off the foot of Tara Frey. Blasius and Jen Hoffman also scored while LaPoint, Mariah Kaiser, Emily Gregg and Sarah Bugar picked up assists.

After a slow start, River Falls ended up outshooting Superior 17-0.

"Superior packed the defense in but we figured out after about 20 minutes how to get around it," Nelson said. "We had some very pretty goals tonight; two headers, and really only one fluky goal. We earned each and every one of them."

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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