by Riley Hicks
In Tuesday night’s semifinal soccer matchup between McIntosh and the Riverwood Raiders, the Lady Chiefs put on a dominant performance to advance to the state championship for the 15th time in team history. The Chiefs were near perfect on both ends of the field against Riverwood to record a shutout with a 3-0 victory to secure their fourth-straight spot in the finals and the first time under new head coach Casey Kreitner.
McIntosh didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard, taking the opening kickoff and driving down the field to score in the first 11 seconds. The Chief to score that opening goal was freshman Bailey Wagenknecht, who broke through the entire Raider defense to put the ball into the back of the net.
After the opening strike, both teams went quiet offensively as the defenses tightened up, and there were no shots on goal for nearly 15 minutes. During this time, the Chiefs lost senior captain and midfielder Mackensi Rohn to an apparent knee injury that kept her out for the rest of the contest.
Without Rohn, McIntosh had to make adjustments offensively and managed to do so and put some great shots on goal. The first big chance came in the 21st minute off a free kick from Skylar Dzenis that went straight into the keeper’s hands for the save. With the half winding down, McIntosh hoped to extend their lead, and in the 29th minute they thought they had the goal to do that, but an offsides penalty negated the score. The potential goal came off a crazy play that started with a cross to Keara Collins, who almost converted but the ball clanged off the top bar. On the rebound Wagenknecht headed it back to Collins, who this time put the ball into the net, but Wagenknecht was called for the offsides.
The Chief defense was lights out throughout the first half, only allowing the Raiders one shot on goal as they headed into the break in front 1-0.
In the second half, McIntosh didn’t skip a beat offensively and continued to play on the attack. Just under two minutes into the half, the Chiefs almost converted with a pass from Collins to Wagenknecht, who went one-on-one with Raider goalkeeper Tess McQuary, but she made the diving save. McQuary came through again with another big save minutes later on a shot from Grace Podolski. Podolski battled back in the 52nd minute and converted the Chiefs’ second goal of the night. With her speed, Podolski blew by defenders and went one-on-one with McQuary again, and this time she snuck the ball just past her into the net to go up 2-0.
With the Chief defense still stalling the Riverwood attack, McIntosh had multiple opportunities to score in the second half. The goal to put the game away came in the 67th minute with the assist from Dzenis to Wagenknecht for her second goal to put her team up 3-0 and solidify the victory.
“I am so proud of them, and they worked so hard,” said Coach Kreitner. “It was definitely an adjustment to lose our senior captain, but some of the younger players really stepped up. I’m just so proud for this team to continue the tradition of successful McIntosh teams.”
The Chiefs will now take on the Whitewater Wildcats in a rematch of last year’s championship game that saw the Wildcats claim the title after surviving PK’s. The game is set for noon on Saturday, May 18 at Mercer University.
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