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Sugar River beats Monroe to advance
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BELLEVILLE - Sugar River soccer coach John Ziperksi's decision to move senior Abbi Lahey from defender to forward paid off against Monroe in a WIAA Division 3 regional championship game on Saturday as Lahey scored a goal on an assist from senior Vanessa Narveson at 16 minutes, 42 seconds.

Sugar River (21-2-2) claimed the game 1-0 and advances to the sectional semifinal where the Raiders will host Madison Edgewood at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Belleville.

Monroe freshman goalkeeper Anna Latimer hit her head on the goal post in the 16th minute and left the game. She returned and played the entire second half racking up a game-high 27 saves.

"Anna had a spectacular game," Monroe coach Miriam O'Neill said. "When you have an injury upset your momentum, especially when it's your keeper, it's tough. Anna obviously had a lot of key and crucial saves."

Monroe senior Maddie Kallgren had a golden opportunity to tie the game with a free kick with 3 minutes, 44 seconds to go. Kallgren's direct kick sailed just above the top cross bar and the Raiders hung on for the regional title.

Ziperski said he was nervous when Kallgren lined up for a direct kick in the waning minutes.

"I know she is a quality player," Ziperski said. "It's not that I don't have faith in my team. I'm always nervous. I know the other team is bringing their best as well."

Sugar River goalkeeper Rachel Heittola had four saves.

O'Neill was proud of the Cheesemakers for battling the state's No. 3-ranked team to win the game. The win marked Sugar River's 15th shutout this season.

"We wanted to play a very good match and we wanted to do whatever we had to do to win," O'Neill said. "With a 1-nil game you can be proud we kept them off the scoreboard for such a long time. They never gave up. I think they (Monroe) had a great season. They had a lot of adversity this year with injuries. Emily Benzschawel was out with a broken collarbone, Olivia Werth and Anna Latimer both missed games earlier this year because of concussions."

Monroe finished the season 10-8-4.