Now things get interesting.
Union finished out the girls soccer regular season this week with two more victories.
The Lady ’Cats (22-1-1) rallied Tuesday to defeat Warrenton on the road, 6-2. Union then shut out MICDS on senior night Wednesday at Stierberger Stadium, 5-0.
The shutout marked the 18th of the season for goalkeeper Hannah Olive. She set a new regular season mark for shutouts in a season with the MICDS win.
“It was a big night for our defense and all of the hard work they’ve put in this season,” Union Head Coach Matt Fennessey said.
Union also honored the seniors in its program, including three four-year players in Ella Keltner, Gigi Gore and Addie Davis. A fourth senior, exchange student Laura Smesnoi, also was honored.
“It was a great game and we were really excited for our seniors,” Fennessey said. “Addie, Ella and Giana (Gigi) have really done a lot for our program. They’ve been four-year varsity players and have made great contributions to our time. I was excited to get a win for them on their senior night.”
For the first time in a long time, the Lady ’Cats found themselves trailing in a game.
However, Union came back to take the lead by the end of the half on the way to a 6-2 win at Warrenton.
“This was easily one of my favorite games of the year,” Fennessey said. “I got to see some true character from our team. We have not been down like that since we played Marquette. The difference last night was we responded correctly.”
Warrenton grabbed the early lead as Bella Roberts netted two goals in the first half.
“Their forward up top had some speed,” Fennessey said. “Defensively, we didn’t get outrun very often. She was running past us. We made a couple adjustments and that was the end of that for them.”
Hailey Cloud netted the first two Union goals and Fennessey said she played a key role in the game.
“Hailey Cloud was instrumental in turning the team in the right direction,” Fennessey said. “She scored the first two goals. The first was a laser from outside the 18. The goalkeeper didn’t stand a chance. The second was a penalty kick.”
Union was able to go ahead prior to the intermission and Fennessey said it was a much better second half.
“We played a much better team game in the second half,” Fennessey said. “We were able to get a lot of fresh bodies in there. We had pretty good energy off of the bench. We are going to need to continue to have that from bench play moving into postseason.”
Sophomore Emily Gaebe added to her goal count with two more against Warrenton. Freshman Maliyah Minor also netted a brace. Each one also assisted on a goal.
“Emily and Maliyah were both able to add two goals last night,” Fennessey said. “It was nice to get them back in the scoring column.”
Union’s other assists came from Addie Davis, Sami Starling and Grace Weiss.
“Kaylee Simpson and Grace Weiss continue to impress in the offensive end,” Fennessey said.
“We wanted to come out and really put on a good performance in our last regular-season game,” Fennessey said. “A lot of good things happened for us. We had great chemistry on the field. We started well and just kept going from there.”
On a night of light rain, Gaebe was Union’s scoring standout, netting four times to move to 45 goals for the season.
For her two seasons, she now has 107 goals and 23 assists.
“Emily came to play tonight,” Fennessey said. “It was the best game she’s played in a couple of weeks. She really just scored at will tonight.”
Gaebe had the first four Union goals against the Lady Rams, including all three of the first half markers.
Gaebe opened scoring just 3:10 into the contest. Gaebe scored from a tight angle from the right byline.
“Sometimes you never know what will happen when you throw it on net,” Fennessey said. “It was not a goal you draw up in the playbook. She was able to get that.”
The second goal came eight seconds past the midway point of the opening half. Sophomore Kaitlyn Hobson assisted.
The third goal, a quick, long shot, came with 14:10 to go in the half.
Gaebe scored on a header 2:09 into the second half to complete her scoring.
Hobson, scored when a crossing pass came to her in the goal mouth with 10:05 to play. Starling assisted.
“Sami played a lot of minutes at left wingback and really did a nice job distributing from that position,” Fennessey said. “It just felt like if we could keep a little possession, the goals would come for us.”
Overall, Fennessey said that goal was the result of a lot of good work by several players.
“Maliyah Minor and Logan Baeres both were right there pestering the goalie and Hobson was able to finish it by sticking a leg in there,” Fennessey said. “Those three kids are hustle players. Hobson takes a lot of big hits out there just because she puts herself into harm’s way and she does it for her team. It was nice to see her get rewarded with that goal for all of her hard work.”
Aubrie Golus and Hailey Cloud also assisted on goals.
For the second night in a row, Union played without defender-midfielder Maddie Helling and defender Erika Toelke. Both are expected back for the playoffs.
Gore moved back to a defensive role to help make up for the injured players.