Marshfield girls soccer edges Onalaska, secures first-ever trip to WIAA state tournament

Marshfield's Sophia Gruenling is swarmed by her teammates after scoring a goal midway through the second half of the WIAA Division 2 girls soccer sectional final on Saturday at Eau Claire Memorial High School. The goal turned out to be the game-winner, lifting the Tigers to their first-ever trip to the state tournament. (Staff photo)
Marshfield’s Courtney Meyer (16) and Nicole Simon chase down a loose ball during the WIAA Division 2 girls soccer sectional final against Onalaska on Saturday at Eau Claire Memorial High School. The Tigers won, 2-1, to secure a spot in the state tournament. (Staff photo)

EAU CLAIRE – The Marshfield girls soccer team just keeps making history.

Playing in its first-ever sectional final, the Tigers will now be moving on to their first state tournament.

Marshfield doubled up Onalaska 2-1 in the WIAA Division 2 sectional final on Saturday afternoon at Memorial High School and will move on to the 2019 WIAA State Girls Soccer Tournament in Milwaukee.

The Tigers (14-7-2) will play in a Division 2 state semifinal against No. 1 seed Whitefish Bay (23-1) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Uihlein Soccer Park. Seedings for the tournament will be announced in the next few days. The championship game will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I cannot say enough about this team,” Marshfield coach Steve Lindner said. “The first sectional final game, and now a trip to state. It was in our discussions early in the season with our goals, but to attain this is awesome.”

Nicole Simon scored in the 7th minute from behind the top of the goalie box to put Marshfield up 1-0.

After Onalaska quickly tied the game on a goal from Kiya Bronston at the 12:28 mark, and the score remained tied until midway through the second half.

Sophia Gruenling took a beautiful pass from Simon, got the goalkeeper out of position, and scored at point-blank range to put the Tigers up 2-1 with about 26 minutes remaining.

“Nicole Simon has stepped up in the playoffs to another level with one goal and three assists in sectional play,” Lindner said. “She is all over and has really embraced the leadership role she does so well. She’s a very vocal leader but one who puts her play out there every night.

“The entire team, one through 23, has been so key to our success this year. They are a special group with enormous potential and so much was realized on the field today.”

Marshfield’s defense did the rest, holding the Hilltoppers at bay to secure a trip to state.

“After we got the second goal we played a little more defensive, and it almost backfired as with the last 2 1/2 minutes the Onalaska team put incredible pressure on us and were in the penalty box what seemed like 5 minutes straight, but the Tigers thwarted each attempt,” Lindner said.

Tigers 2, Hilltoppers 1
Marshfield 1 1 – 2
Onalaska 1 0 – 1
First half:
1. M, Nicole Simon (Nina Hashimoto), 6:06; 2. O, Kiya Bronston (Lauren Ecklund), 12:28.
Second half: 3. M, Sophia Gruenling (Simon), 63:24.
Shots on goal: Marshfield 12; Onalaska 9.
Saves: M, Mikayla Brueggen 8; O, Sam Plantz 10.
Records: Marshfield 14-7-2; Onalaska 18-3-3.