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West Lafayette girls soccer primed for shot at redemption against Marian

October 20, 2012
West Lafayette Jr.-Sr. High School

A calendar year later, West Lafayette’s soccer team seemingly remembers each moment, every controversial call, every mistake and especially the ensuing heartbreak of a trip to Argos.

The Red Devils were one match away from playing for a state championship.

Denise Veldman’s goal in the 91st minute gave Mishawaka Marian a double-overtime victory in the Class A north semistate championship game.

“I think about it every day,” said junior Shelby Mann, who scored a goal in last year’s semifinal-round victory over Fort Wayne Concordia. “I replay it in my mind, what happened, what we did wrong.”

West Lafayette gets another crack at Veldman and the Knights this morning in the Argos Semistate, this time in the semifinals.

Coach Aaron Blessing doesn’t have to say much to motivate his Red Devils, who have been holding onto their frustration for a year hoping to see Mishawaka Marian again.

“I think we’ll want it more, because we didn’t get to go to state last year and they did,” said senior Katie Bittner, who scored WL’s lone goal in that match, tying the score at 1-1.

Mishawaka Marian lost in the Class A state championship to an undefeated Providence team in penalty kicks last season.

The Knights bring their own motivation to return to the state finals and this time not leave as runner-up.

West Lafayette hopes to ride a dominating defense that has the Red Devils riding a lot of momentum going into today. West Side has not allowed a goal since a 3-1 loss to Valparaiso on Sept. 15. The Red Devils have outscored opponents 35-0 during that eight-match streak.

But the players also understand the season gets more difficult the further along you advance into the postseason.

“We’re going to be up against harder competition,” junior midfielder Erin Brophy said. “I think mainly it’s about bringing the team together and keeping the momentum of our winning streak we have going right now.”

As much as things look the same, Blessing knows this team is different than the one of a year ago. Same thing for the opposition, same thing for the remainder of the eight-team field.

Mann said that last year, the Red Devils may have taken this experience for granted. WL was atop the small school coaches’ poll. The team frequently talked about winning a state championship and fully expected to outplay Mishawaka Marian.

This year, West Side has a different mindset, Mann said.

“I don’t anticipate us taking it for granted,” Blessing said. “I don’t think we’re going to come in with a lack of confidence, but I think they understand they are going to have to play really well against a good team,” Blessing said.

Class A Semistate

At Argos
West Lafayette (13-4-1) vs. Mishawaka Marian (15-4-2), 10 a.m.
Argos (13-5-2) vs. Fort Wayne Luers (13-5), noon
Championship, 7 p.m.
What’s next: The semistate champion will represent the north in next Saturday’s Class A state championship.

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