Cyclone girls rally past Denison for Region 2 win

Victory sets up rematch vs. No. 2 Lewis Central

 HARLAN (May 28) -- Second-half goals by juniors Raegen Wicks and Kaia Bieker enabled Harlan Community to rally past Denison-Schleswig 2-1 Friday night in a Class 2A girls soccer regional quarterfinal at Merrill Field.
 Trailing 1-0 at halftime, HCHS scored goals in the 47th and 58th minutes, taking the lead with 22:25 remaining and holding off a strong challenge from the Monarchs, who also lost in Harlan 5-2 on May 4.
 Denison closed the season at 4-12 overall while the Cyclones (9-9) will now play at 2nd-ranked Lewis Central (15-2) in a Region 2 semi-final Wednesday, June 2.
 “That’s a big one,” said HCHS head coach Jared Boysen of the win. “We kind of switch back and forth with 1A and 2A, but it was a good one. I (think) we’ve improved a lot. We started out real young and we’ve been building and working towards this. We knew they were going to come out strong, but it was good to finish and get a 2A win.”
 Boysen thought both teams played well on the night, especially defensively.
 “Both teams were playing really hard to not give up very many scoring opportunities,” he said. “They especially focused on stopping Darbie (Argotsinger) since she scored four goals against them during the regular season, limiting her to just one shot. Kaia stepped up on the opposite side, having eight shots and finishing on the go-ahead goal. Madison Kjergaard did a good job of winning the ball for us in the middle and getting the ball back up to our offense, and I felt like we had one of our better games passing and possessing the ball.
 “We have a big challenge ahead of us against Lewis Central, but I think the girls are up for the challenge.”
 The Cyclones seemed to generate more possession time and shots than Denison in the first half, but did not have many quality shots on goal.
 The Monarchs took their 1-0 lead with 16:23 left in the half as Magaly Villa scored a short breakaway goal following some nifty ball-handling and an assist by Vanessa Guardado. D-S nearly scored again in the final 30 seconds, but a shot deflected off the leg of charging goalie Lexi Musich and stayed away from the net.
 “We weren’t getting our shots on goal,” Boysen said of the first half. “We had quite a few opportunities but they weren’t on goal and we weren’t getting (the ball) across to the other side.”
 Barely two minutes into the second half, a long shot attempt by Wicks bounced off the crossbar for a near goal, but the Cyclones would not be denied much longer. With 33:51 remaining, Wicks freed herself up from the left side with a nice one-on-one move back toward the middle and sent one past the keeper to tie the score at 1-1.
 Eleven minutes later - with 22:25 to go - Ava Miller directed a nice through ball over the defense and Bieker took care of the rest, advancing the ball to about 12 yards out before drilling the go-ahead goal.
 “We kind of talked at halftime about the quick, slow through balls just to get it right behind the defense,” Boysen said, “and Ava Miller had the great one to Kaia on that side... and she finished.
 “I thought we came out strong in the second half. That was a positive.”
 As soon as HCHS took its 2-1 lead, the Monarchs were knocking at the door and had two pretty good looks at the net during the next minute and a half. On the second shot, Musich reached as high as she could to snare one of her five saves on the night.
 The Cyclones did a good job in the last 20 minutes of limiting the Monarchs’ chances.
 “They kept fighting the whole game,” Boysen said of Denison. “Even the first half, I thought their physicality (was key). They didn’t want to give up. They were going to give a fight to the end, so I give them a lot of credit.”
 Boysen added: “Lexi had a couple good saves. The defense [was] recovering... because their through ball was working pretty good. They had some speed up front that I don’t know if they had last time.”
 HCHS finished with a 17-12 edge in total shots and outshot Denison 10-6 on goal. Bieker led the way with eight shots (four on goal) while Wicks and Miller had three apiece.
 The Cyclones will be facing a Lewis Central team Wednesday that defeated them 10-0 in less than 60 minutes on May 17. HCHS trailed just 3-0 at halftime before allowing seven quick goals in the second half.
 The winner will play either No. 11 Glenwood (13-4) or Panorama (14-6) in Friday’s Region 2 final.
 Boysen says the Cyclones must play with intensity from the start against LC.
 “(Being) on the ball all the time, winning it, not giving them open looks,” he said. “If you give them any open looks they’re going to be able to finish, so we’ll just have to work on everybody finding somebody when they get close.
 “The first half last time we played them it was 3-0 and they had a couple of just over-the-top goals that we could have had back to keep it close, but we’re going to have to really keep it close to have a chance.”

2A Girls Regional Soccer • May 28 • at Harlan
Harlan Community 2, Denison-Schleswig 1
Denison: Magaly Villa goal (Vanessa Guardado assist) - 1st half, 24th minute.
HCHS: Raegen Wicks goal (unassisted) - 2nd half, 47th minute.
HCHS: Kaia Bieker goal (Ava Miller assist) - 2nd half, 58th minute.
 Total Shots: HCHS 17 (Kaia Bieker 8, Raegen Wicks 3, Ava Miller 3, Darbie Argotsinger 1, Madison Kjergaard 1, Brynn Klaassen 1), Denison 12.
 Shots on Goal: HCHS 10 (K. Bieker 4, Miller 3, Wicks 2, Argotsinger 1), Denison 6.
 Goalie Saves: HCHS 5 (Lexi Musich 5), Denison 8.
 Corner Kicks: HCHS 10, Denison n/a.

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