Columbus Catholic holds off La Crosse Aquinas to win WIAA Division 4 regional final
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield Columbus Catholic soccer team is moving on to the sectionals for the second year in a row after a hard-fought 4-2 victory over La Crosse Aquinas in a WIAA Division 4 regional final Thursday at Griese Park.
Columbus Catholic (14-4-3) moves on to a WIAA Division 4 boys soccer sectional semifinal next Thursday at Stevens Point Pacelli. The game will be played at the Portage County Soccer Complex starting at 7 p.m. Columbus Catholic and Pacelli split a pair of Mid-State Soccer Conference matches this season, with each winning on its home field.
The sectional championship is Saturday, Oct. 25, at 1 p.m. at Griese Park.
“I’m excited,” Columbus Catholic senior goalkeeper Evan Hansen said. “I think we can go pretty far. I am feeling good. This was a good victory and I think we can give any team a run for their money.”
Senior Sean McCarthy, who missed Tuesday’s regional semifinal due to illness, scored twice for the Dons in the first half as they got out to a quick 2-0 lead.
McCarthy scored 3:54 into the game on an assist from Charles Payant and added another goal on 19:42 on an assist from Alexandra Hutchison to put the Dons on top.
Columbus went up 3-0 when Aquinas kicked in an own goal before halftime.
In the second half, McCarthy left the game with an injury and Aquinas took advantage.
Tim Healy scored twice, bringing the Blugolds to within one with just under 20 minutes left.
While Aquinas controlled the ball for much of the remaining time, it was the Dons who were able to score and pad their lead.
Freshman Calvin Brown popped a high shot over Aquinas goalkeeper Noah Snyder with 16:01 left to give Columbus some much-needed breathing room with a 4-2 lead.
“They were a very, very tough team, one of the toughest we’ve seen all season,” Columbus Catholic coach Jeff Edwards said. “It was nice to be able to hold on like that and get that fourth goal to kind of put it out of reach.
“I’m really happy for everyone on this team. Outside was working well until Sean (was injured). Once he was out, we lost that speed on the outside, and that finishing factor. We kind of got shell-shocked a little bit. I thought we did a better job after halftime of trying to possess the ball and working it a little more.”
Aquinas peppered Hansen with shots over the final minutes and he turned back every one to preserve the victory. Hansen finished with a season-high 14 saves.
“We knew they were going to be a harder team, we’re getting into the playoffs now,” Hansen said. “They were getting shots on us. They were a good team. I was making sure my defenders were marking. They were taking shots inside the 18 (yard box), outside the 18, so I really had to focus on that. It wasn’t easy.”
Dons 4, Blugolds 2
Aquinas 0 2 – 2
Columbus Catholic 3 1 – 4
First half: 1. CC, Sean McCarthy (Charles Payant), 3:54; 2. CC, McCarthy (Alexandra Hutchison), 19:42; 3. CC, Aquinas own goal.
Second half: 4. A, Tim Healy (Evan Dolan), 53:39; 5. A, Healy (Dante Pizzini), 70:42; 6. CC, Calvin Brown (Hutchison), 73:59.
Shots on goal: Aquinas 16; Columbus Catholic 5.
Corner kicks: Aquinas 10; Columbus Catholic 1.
Saves: A, Noah Snyder 1; CC, Evan Hansen 14.
Records: Aquinas 11-7-2; Columbus Catholic 14-4-3.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com).