Hanover Central's Carrie Johnston moves the ball down field during a game against Hebron on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, in Cedar Lake. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media
Wheeler 3, Hanover Central 1
WHEELER (9-1) 0 - 3 == 3
HANOVER CENTRAL (6-1) 0 - 1 == 1
9-8-12, 72 degrees in Cedar Lake
1st half - NO SCORING
WHEELER (1-0) Shannon Eden (Lani Eaton) 44:03
HANOVER (1-1) Blayr Poston (unassisted) 51:31
WHEELER (2-1) Lauren Fratzke (unassisted) 57:53
WHEELER (3-1) Terra Phillips (unassisted) 58:54
Goalkeepers: Kim Moskovich (W); BK Sakaleris (HC)
HANOVER CENTRAL (7-3)
Jim Pattison (3rd year) 15-2 in 2011
8-20 (W) 13-1 Kouts
8-21 (W) 10-2 Westville
8-28 (W) 8-3 (Michigan City) Marquette
8-30 (W) 9-0 Gavit
9-4 (W) 6-1 Hebron
9-6 (W) 4-3 (Kankakee) Covenant Christian
9-8 (L) 1-3 Wheeler
9-11 (L) 3-7 Boone Grove
9-13 (L) 0-0 Griffith .
9-18 (W) 7-1 Washinghton Township
9-20 (Thurs.) Lowell
9-25 (Tues.) @ Bishop Noll
9-26 (W) Clark
9-29 (Sat ) @ Morton
WHEELER (1A) Sectional
10-1 (Mon) quarterfinals
10-2 (Tues) quarterfinals
10-4 (Thurs.) semifinals
10-6 (Sat.) championship
Updated: September 20, 2012 1:19PM
CEDAR LAKE — When Hanover won the first Class 1A girls soccer sectional title last season, it defeated Wheeler at the Wheeler Sectional.
The Bearcat girls came to Cedar Lake Saturday and when they left, Hanover knew that if they want to repeat as sectional champs, they’re going to have to beat Wheeler again.
The Bearcats (9-1) turned a sunny day cloudy for the home team, scoring three second half goals to top Hanover 3-1.
Wheeler scored three times in the first 15 minutes of the second half and was able to contain the high-scoring Hanover squad in a change-of-fortune from 2011, when HC topped Wheeler twice.
“I wasn’t here last year,” said new Wheeler coach Brian Murray. “It’s my understand that both games were close and I know the girls were excited about this one.”
Wheeler won with a physical style that Hanover wasn’t used to. The Bearcasts countered the Lady Cats speed by simply pushing them around. The bigger Bearcats bumped Hanover players off the ball more often than could be counted.
“We have some younger girls,” said HC coach Jim Pattison. “They have some seniors who are bigger than we are. For some of our girls, this was the first time they’d been in a game like this. This is a tough stretch for us with Covenant Christian, Wheeler, Boone and Lowell.”
Each of the last two goals for Wheeler were steals or intercepted passes from the Hanover defense. The Bearcats had played more games and a couple of bigger schools than Hanover had so far and it showed.
“Some of those (small school) teams are in our conference,” said Murray, “and we both play them. But we have played Merrillville and Griffith and we do have a little bigger girls.”
Wheeler paid special attention to Hanover senior Blayr Poston, a 33-goal scorer from 2011 who had scored three two nights earlier in a 4-3 HC win over Covenant Christian (6-1).
Poston is faster than any one player Wheeler could defend her with, so more than one Bearcat was called to duty.
“We tried to have more than one defender around her,” said Murray. “We had different players on her. When she gets the ball, she’s not going to give it up so we tried to have as many people around her as possible.”
Poston scored on a rebound of a shot that hit the post to tie the game with 28:29 to play. But Lauren Fratzke stole the ball and scored for a 2-1 Bearcat lead at 57:53. Terra Phillips intercepted a pass in the Hanover end and made it 3-1 a little more than a minute later.
“Our defenders can’t get into a situation where they turn their backs when a forward’s on them. They’ll run right up your back and steal the ball. But we’ll learn. This is a tough stretch but we’ll get better. We lost in the middle of last year and we came back.”
LADY CAT NOTES: Hanover Central had to overcoem a 2-0 defecit to stop Covenant Christian 4-3 last week in the closest game of the season.
CC’s Sophia Van Keppel scored twice in the first half against a Lady cat team that had not trailed all year.
HC got two goals from senior Blayr Poston and third from sophomore Melissa Ballkema to take a 3-2 lead to the halftime break.
Covenant’s Katy Long scored off a pass from Van Keppel to tie the game but Poston’s third goal gave HC the team’s first one-goal win of the season.
Hanover’s Rylie Singleton hopes to play before the season ends, according to coach Jim Pattison. Singleton is a junior forward who would give HC another scoring threat along with senior Blayr Poston and junior Summer Pattison.
Sophomore midfielder Melissa Balkema suffered an ankle injury early in the second half but she returned to finish the game.
Hanover goalkeeper BK Sakelaris kept her team close in the game by neutralizing several Wheeler threats. She didn’t so much pile up saves as she came out of the penalty box and broke up Bearcats challenges before they became shots.
Softball shortstop Ivy Dawson has made a successful debut as Hanover junior varsity goalie.
“She has natural instincts for the position,” confirmed Pattison. “We lost a few on the JV level because of who we play but the other coaches have been commenting on how our goalie has been playing well.
“I tell them that’s good to hear because this is her first year playing soccer. Hanover Host Griffith Thursday night at 6 p.m. Griffith was the only team to defeat Hanover Central during the 2011 regular season.