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Sugar River brings home silver trophy
MILWAUKEE - The Sugar River girls soccer team set broke or tied two state records, set four school records and brought home a silver trophy after a 5-0 loss to Waukesha Catholic Memorial in a WIAA Division 3 state championship game on Saturday at Uihlein Soccer Park.

"You have to savor the moment," Sugar River coach John Ziperksi said. "We might not make it back to the state finals again in my coaching career. I'm sure it will be hard to forget playing in the state finals.

"It was a terrific experience. The girls went out and worked hard and handled the dynamics of the game and situation."

Sugar River finished the season 24-3-2 as the state runner-up. Sugar River freshman goalkeeper Rachel Heittola had 14 saves, breaking the Division 3 state record of 12. Heittola made 17 saves in her two games at state, which tied the Division 3 tournament record.

The Raiders played in their first state title game, brought home the program's first state trophy, set school records for most wins in a single-season (24) and games played in a single-season (29).

"Anyone would have been an underdog to Catholic Memorial," Ziperski said. "The girls focused on playing one more game together. The state finals was a celebration of their season."

Catholic Memorial senior Emily Cervantes, a Tennessee soccer recruit, scored three goals to power the Crusaders to the win. Catholic Memorial won its fifth straight state title, a state record for Wisconsin girls and boys soccer programs. The Crusaders have won nine state championships in the last 13 years and have played in 11 state tournaments since 2004.

Ziperski is proud that the Raiders competed despite being short-handed: Sugar River had four players missing from state who are on the Dominican Republic trip for Spanish class including starter Kalin O'Rourke. Defender Hannah Jones missed the game due to a knee injury.

Cervantes scored her first goal at 15 minutes, 36 seconds and tacked on her second goal about 1 minute later to give the Crusaders a 2-0 lead. The Raiders tried marking Cervantes by dropping back an extra forward on defense in senior Abbi Lahey.

"Abbi is our best defender and even with her working as hard as she could after that second goal, we wanted to transfer back to playing our normal style of soccer," Ziperski said.

Catholic Memorial outshot Sugar River 20-3. Ziperski is proud that Heittola and junior Madeline Bartels, who was on the Dominican Republic trip, developed as dependable goalkeepers this season.

"At the beginning of the year we didn't have a keeper," Ziperski said. "I think it's (single-game saves record) is an honor for Rachel. With so many shots, it's probably a record she hoped she didn't have. She stayed in there and never gave up. She was a terrific asset to our defense this year. Coming into the season and not having a keeper and having a keeper set a new state record shows that anything can happen."