The Columbia Eagles looked like they were on their way to another rout of the Wesclin Warriors in the Class 1A Columbia Regional soccer semifinal Tuesday.
Senior Lauren Kaempfe scored from close range on a pass from senior Hannah Heller less than five minutes into the game to put the Eagles ahead 1-0.
“Hannah Heller made a great pass to Lauren, who made a nice run off of it to receive it,” said Columbia coach Steve Ross, whose team thrashed Wesclin 8-0 in the regular season.
But Wesclin senior Zoe Christopher capitalized on a defensive breakdown and scored the game-tying goal at 21:17, giving the Warriors (14-5-2) life.
Never miss a local story.
But Kaempfe scored again at 50:13 on a pass from senior Lauren Tolan, putting the Eagles (10-7) on top for good. Sophomore Blair Wittenbrink iced the game with a goal at 73:24, lifting top-seeded Columbia into the title game against No. 2 Althoff (7-12) at 6 p.m. Friday.
“It’s playoff time, so everybody’s going to play (hard),” Ross said. “But we were patient and composed. We didn’t get rattled (by Christopher’s goal). That’s a sign of the leadership on our team. A couple of years ago, we might have been rattled by that.”
Warriors coach Terry Calvert packed his defense into the middle of the field and tried to force Columbia to rely on its wings. He didn’t second-guess the strategy despite the loss.
“Our goal was to keep it close and have a chance at the end,” Calvert said. “I think we did that. We played defensive-minded and tried to be opportunistic when we got the ball in the offensive third. The first chance down, we scored. The girls believed they could do it. We gave them our best shot. They’re a really good team and we did everything we could do.”