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Ritschard kick-starts win
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Monroe sophomore Kylee Ritschard tries to punch in a goal past the Cambridge-Deerfield goalkeeper in the Cheesemakers 2-0 win in the WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal on Thursday.
MONROE - Monroe sophomore Kylee Ritschard knows what it's like to play with big expectations as the favorite.

Ritschard played on the state-qualifying girls basketball team. Now she's trying to replicate that success on the soccer field. The Monroe girls soccer team made the most of playing the favorite Thursday in a WIAA Division regional semifinal.

Ritschard scored two goals to propel Monroe to a 2-0 win over Cambridge-Deerfield in the first regional game the Cheesemakers have hosted.

"We know what it was like last year," Ritschard said after the Cheesemakers lost in the second round to Sugar River. "We loved it last year. Now we know what it's like to play a second game."

Monroe, (14-5-3), which has received honorable mention recognition in the latest Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association Division 2 state poll, next plays Saturday at McFarland - an 11-0 winner Thursday over Lakeside Lutheran.

"Everyone wants to get further," Ritschard said. "To get further would be a cherry on top."

Cambridge-Deerfield had three shots on goal in the first 14 minutes. The Blue Jays contained the Cheesemakers' offense for the first 29 minutes. That wouldn't last long, as Ritschard made a one-on-one move past Cambridge-Deerfield senior midfielder Lauren Sewell and snuck in a goal to the near post at the 30-minute mark. In a win-or-go-home playoff scenario, Ritschard knew the Blue Jays wouldn't just roll over.

"This could have been their last game," Ritschard said. "They were pushing really hard. They were working a lot harder. They made us have a run for our money."

Monroe coach Miriam O'Neill knows hosting the program's first regional game brought some nervous energy.

"Before the game, I told them not to underestimate them (Cambridge-Deerfield)," O'Neill said. "The first 15 minutes were a little scary. I think they were a little excited and jittery. Kylee scored that goal and everyone said, 'OK, we can stay on top of this now.' After that they settled down."

Ritschard scored her second goal at 43:30 on a through-ball pass by senior Catie Eiserman to give the Cheesemakers a 2-0 lead.

"Catie had a perfect pass and just gave me a wide open goal," Ritschard said. "Thanks to Catie. That was all Catie."

The Cheesemakers' defense clamped down and held the Blue Jays without a shot on goal in the second half.

Monroe junior goalkeeper Gail LaVoie had six saves and sweeper Alyssa Studer helped shut down the Blue Jays' attack.

"Alyssa is a great player," O'Neill said. "She communicates really well. She's a very talented player."