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Girls soccer pulls stunner on Freedom

The Denmark News - Staff Photo - Create Article

By Kelly Fenton

The Denmark News

DENMARK – The Denmark Vikings had beaten nemesis Freedom exactly one time in the 14-year history between the two schools.

That came in 2013. Over the following decade, the Vikings had their chances and forged three ties. But there were no wins over that period.

With the graduation of six core members of the team last year – the original six players to start up the youth program and go all the way through high school – this young team didn’t seem like the ideal candidate to snap that streak.

But on Friday afternoon in Freedom, the three Viking seniors led a still young but much more experienced group of underclassmen to a stunning 3-1 upset in Freedom to propel Denmark into the regional final at three seed Winneconne today at 1 p.m.

“It’s just a good core of senior leadership and my young players kept getting better and better the whole season,” Denmark coach Ron Cavil said. “They really started to gel at the end. Getting that first goal really helped.”

That first goal, by the way, was a magnificent one-timer, a high arcing rocket from 35 yards out off the strong leg of Ellyse Kelly that seemed to hang in the air for several minutes before slipping just over a leaping Freedom goalie and just below the cross bar. 

Scoring first – and in such spectacular fashion – was maybe just what Denmark needed to settle into the game with an Irish team that had beaten them 4-1 earlier in the season.

What happened next really gave Denmark a sense of destiny. Two minutes after that first goal, Kelly unleashed a  perfect corner kick that a Freedom defender deflected past her own goalie for a 2-0 lead just 12 minutes into the game.

But it took Freedom only two minutes to strike back and half the lead to 2-1. 

First-year goalie Madalyn Hummel played like a veteran behind a solid defense anchored by senior Zoey Wavrunek and junior Ivy Wavrunek, recording 10 saves on the day, a few that had real chances of tying it up over a tense final 55 minutes.

Her most striking save came after a rebound from a Freedom corner kick. Facing an Irish forward 10 feet away, Hummel was able to lunge and snare the potential game-tying shot. 

Denmark caught a break late in the half when a Freedom penalty kick caromed off the right post. The PK kicker put it back in off the rebound but the goal didn’t count and Denmark held its lead. Freedom also sent a long high shot similar to Kelly’s goal that Hummel caught right at the top of the bar as time expired in the first half. 

The second half was just pretty much a steady Freedom assault as their skilled midfielders and forwards were able to find just enough space to launch several rockets. The most dangerous foray was a one-on-one with Hummel that she was able to snag. 

The Vikings had a few chances of their own. Emily Plagenz’s direct kick from the top of the box clanged off the crossbar. It was a tense final few minutes. Zoey Wavrunek made a diving tackle of a dangerous ball 10 yards in front of the net.

But Denmark sealed it when Kelly sent a ball from the left wing toward the right post that just grazed the goalie’s fingers. When the ball got past the goalie, Hailey Wheeler was there to poke it into the empty net with under five to play to set the final margin.

“The original goal was to assist Hailey on that senior-to-senior,” Kelly said. “I was glad the goalie was only able to get her fingers on it and then Hailey was right there. She always is.”

As for that first 35-yard goal that got Denmark off and running, Kelly just laughed and shook her head.

“I may have done something like that a long time ago,” she said. “I never thought that would happen again but I was happy to do it today. I probably won’t ever do that again but it got us off to a great start.”

Zoey Wavrunek admitted she figured this might be her final game as a Viking.

“I was not really expecting that to be honest,” she said. “My goal this year was to beat Freedom so it makes me incredibly happy to move on. I think the key today was communication. Me and my sister work really close there in the middle. And credit to Ivy, Dana (Bradley), Maren (Draxler) and Autumn on defense. And Maddie, our goalie, really stepped it up in her first year.”

Kelly said her team grew from the struggles early in the season.

“I just think we took a breath and kept pushing through the season,” she said. “After every loss we came back even stronger.”


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