The last thing Columbia’s Madelyne Juenger wanted to see was history repeat itself for a fourth time, so the Eagles senior did something about it.
Juenger tallied off a pair of set pieces — once in each half — to help lift the Eagles to a 3-0 victory over the Althoff Crusaders in Friday’s championship game of the Columbia Class 1A Sectional.
Each of the previous three seasons, Columbia’s campaign had ended in similar fashion: sectional title game losses to Alton Marquette. Those contests were all decided on penalty kicks.
Juenger’s goals made certain this game never had a chance to get to penalty kicks as the Eagles (19-2-1) turned in a dominating performance to earn their first sectional title since 2008.
“This is so exciting, knowing that we finally got through this after going out in PKs my first three years,” said Juenger, who has six goals for the season. “I am just so happy that isn’t the way we went out this year.
“I could not have done it without my teammates. They give me the opportunities, and I just finish.”
Eagles coach Jamey Bridges was especially pleased to see that it was Juenger who stepped up. A year ago, Juenger had missed on the Eagles’ final penalty kick to help set the stage for Marquette’s 2-1 win.
“This has to be really special for her, especially being a senior,” said Bridges, whose team was making its sixth consecutive sectional appearance. “We don’t talk about it enough, but these seniors have lost three straight years in the sectional championship.
“So to win one, and for her to get two of the goals, after what happened last year, that is just beautiful.”
With the win, Columbia will advance to the Quincy Notre Dame Super-Sectional, where it will face the host Lady Raiders on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Notre Dame (21-1-1) advanced with a 7-0 rout of Pleasant Plains in the title game of the Quincy Notre Dame Sectional.
Juenger notched the game’s first goal 19:27 into the contest, when she beat Althoff goaltender Rachel Monken on a straight-on free kick from 17 yards out.
That lead grew to 2-0 four minutes into the second half, with Juenger connecting on a free kick from the left side from 25 yards away.
The Eagles added an insurance goal with 1:13 remaining; Reagan Mauch tallied on a header for her 11th goal of the season.
Althoff had trouble mustering any offense.
The Crusaders’ (14-8-1) best opportunity came not long after Juenger notched the game’s first goal, when Amanda Kaltwasser got off a hard shot from the left that Columbia goalie Rylee Iorio seemed to get a hand on before it clanked off a pair of posts.
“If we could have tied it up there, it might have put an interesting twist to the game,” said Crusaders coach Juergen Huettner. “After that, we had a hard time creating opportunities in general.
“At the end of the day, Columbia was the better team.”
While she didn’t see much pressure in net, Ioria still came out of the game with her 16th shutout of the season and ninth in a row. The Eagles have allowed just seven goals in 22 matches.
“The one off the post was a great save by Rylee; I know she tipped it,” said Barnes. “We’ve just been strong defensively all year. Taylor Parks and Morgan Glaenzer have both been very good for us.
“Again, I should not be surprised because it’s how they have played all year.”