Women’s soccer moving on

Prior to Tuesday’s WIAC tournament game, the UW-Eau Claire women’s soccer team had never lost to UW-Platteville in school history — 27 wins, zero losses.

When the moon rose over Bollinger Field Tuesday night, the legacy continued — 28-0.

Assistant coach Kimamo Wahome said the record doesn’t drive the team, however.

“History does not count for anything,” he said. “Because things always look like they did in the past until they don’t.”

Regardless of their past matchups, he said the team needed to respect the game just the same and play good aggressive soccer.

And that’s what they did. The Blugolds out-shot the Pioneers 23-4 and were six minutes shy of a shutout until one goal finally got past senior goalie Nina Behrenbrinker. The final score was 3-1.

Wahome said the team won a “feisty” victory the previous time the two teams met — Platteville recorded five yellow cards and one red card. During Tuesday’s game, the Pioneers’ feistiness was reduced to just one yellow card in the first half.

The Blugolds had a 2-0 lead at halftime, but head coach Sean Yengo said in a tournament game, there is never a big enough lead to feel at ease.

“We were pressing to try and get that third goal,” Yengo said. “Sometimes a two-goal lead is the worst lead you can have in soccer, you (start to) sit back a little bit.”

He said the team talked at halftime and the objective was to come out like gangbusters and get that third goal to put the game more out of reach.

For a team who historically struggles with scoring, it was no struggle Tuesday night.

Senior Paige LeGate scored right out of the gate in the second minute off an assist from freshman Colette St. John.

Freshman Caroline Henderson scored in the 25th minute on a pass from senior Allie Stone to give the Blugolds their 2-0 halftime lead.

Henderson, who switched positions prior to the game to get her more involved offensively, said Stone set her up perfectly.

“It was a perfect through ball,” she said.

For good measure, Henderson scored again unassisted in the 75th minute to give Eau Claire a 3-0 lead.

Considering the circumstances, Yengo said the pressure of a tournament game didn’t get to the team.

“I feel like the team really just kind of sat back, relaxed and played their best game of the year,” Yengo said.

The Blugolds’ defense showed the Pioneers they would have to step it up if they wanted to score on them. The defense didn’t allow the Pioneers a single shot in the first 90 minutes of play.

“There’s a saying in soccer that says offense wins you matches, defense wins you championships,” Wahome said.

The Blugolds had to win their last three conference games just to qualify for the tournament. They accomplished that and Yengo said now it’s all or nothing.

“If you win, you extend your season, if you lose, your season is over,” he said.

The fourth-seeded Blugolds will have another chance to extend their season as they take on top-seeded and unbeaten UW-Whitewater at 6 p.m. tonight in Whitewater.

A win against the Warhawks would give the Blugolds a ticket to the conference championship Saturday at either UW-Stout or UW-Oshkosh.