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Raiders one step from state
Sugar Rivers Taylor Halvenslaben tries to get the ball away from Madison Edgewoods Brita Hovde during a sectional semifinal game at Belleville High School on Thursday. Sugar River defeated Madison Edgewood 1-0. To order this photo, click here. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
BELLEVILLE - Sugar River senior Nicole Sanders had to sit and wait out a lightning delay for 1 hour, 45 minutes before she could deliver some heroics.

Sanders scored on a direct kick from about 18 yards away in the 75th minute to give the Raiders a 1-0 win over Madison Edgewood in a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal game Thursday at the Belleville Sports Complex.

"It's probably one of those dream shots for her," Sugar River coach John Ziperski said. "I feel terrific for her."

It's the third straight year the Raiders have played in the sectional. With the win, Sugar River avenges a loss to Edgewood from last year in the sectional semifinal.

Ziperski was proud to see the Raiders come through on one of their set plays.

"I think in our season and in the tournament we have had great set pieces," Ziperski said. "Nicole has had some great goals on direct kicks like that this year."

With the win, Sugar River (22-2-2), ranked No. 3 in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches' Association Division 3 state poll, advances to play West Salem in a sectional championship game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Mount Horeb with a state berth on the line. The last time Sugar River advanced to state came in 2004 when there were only three divisions and they lost in the state semifinals to Xavier 7-0.

It's the second time this season the Raiders have beat the Crusaders. Sugar River has three straight shutouts in the tournament and now has racked up 16 shutouts this year.

"The girls earned it," Ziperski said. "It's pretty amazing. It was a terrific game to beat another really good team. It's been a team effort. Our defense has been really solid. Our forwards and midfielders have done a really good job of playing a possession-style and have attacked when it was there."

Edgewood senior forward Eileen Healy had a golden scoring opportunity off a corner kick in the 54th minute, but her header shot was stopped by Sugar River goalkeeper Rachel Heittola.

Sanders put a direct kick shot right on the post in the 57th minute, but Edgewood's goalie made a diving save to keep the game scoreless.

The Raiders had three corner kicks and three direct kicks in the first half, but couldn't capitalize with a goal.