Girls soccer: Hand shuts out undermanned Lauralton Hall squad

MADISON — It’s tough enough trying to beat the best team on your schedule during the regular season. Then try to beat them without your best player and the season on the line.

That was the mission the Lauralton Hall girls soccer team faced Thursday night. The Crusaders lost to Hand, which won the league tournament title a week ago, twice during the regular season. Lauralton got a third chance in the Class L state tournament second round at the Surf Club, but without reigning league Player of the Year, senior striker Caroline Monahan.

Yet the 18th-seeded Crusaders hung in playing the second-seeded Tigers close to even in the opening half and a small portion of the second half. But second-seeded Hand still advanced 3-0.

“The longer the game goes on, maybe the more frustrated they would get,” Lauralton Hall coach Steve Waizenegger said. “I thought we played well in the first half. I think we got tired in the second half.”

Hand (19-1-1) will host No. 26 seed Barlow in the quarterfinals Saturday at 3 p.m.

“The SCC championship was big in our minds, but we also have our eye on trying to do something even bigger,” Dikranian said, referring to the Class L title. “I think the hunger is there. Hopefully, we can get there.”

The Tigers beat Lauralton 3-1 and 2-1 in the midst of a 14-game winning streak. Both teams won via shutouts in the Class L opening round Tuesday.

But Lauralton’s victory ended up being costly. Waizenegger said Monahan broke her leg in a collision as she was scoring the game’s only goal against Rockville.

“I heard it crack and I ran onto the field. She is still in the hospital,” said Waizenegger, adding he thought Monahan would be released soon. “There’s no makeup for losing her. I’ve coached for 20 years (boys and girls). She’s one of the best high school players I’ve ever had.”

Said Dikranian: “When we found out she had broken her leg, our game plan changed. We played without having to man mark. I think once the kids found out, mentally it almost affected them. I told them to be weary of them, that Lauralton would elevate their game without their top player and they did.”

Hand scored on its first shot — a header by Sam Riordan off Vivianna Mazzarella’s corner kick less than 5 minutes into the contest.

Gabby Egidio provided the second goal, dribbling down the left side, controlling the ball before letting go right in front of Lauralton Hall goalkeeper Julia Rush, scoring to the bottom left corner.

Kayla Howard scored with 12:14 left, patiently working her away across the pitch, then avoiding an oncoming Rush and firing a shot off a defender into the net.

“They are very organized, very methodical the way they play,” Waizenegger said about Hand. “The technical skill set with some of these girls come out at the right time.”

Lauralton only had a pair of shot attempts in the second half.