LA CROSSE, Wis - When the Aquinas Blugolds went down 1-0 in their sectional semifinal match last Thursday against Pacelli, they were determined not let their 2012 season end like it did in 2011.
"I just kept thinking about the year before, when we lost 1-0 to a team we shouldn't have," says Connor Rademacher. Goalie Patrick Vandenberg shared the same thoughts. "Not again, after last year losing to Columbus on their one shot on goal. I was thinking we better score again, because I did not want my senior season to end that way."
Fortunately for Aquinas, things did not end that way. Chris Paulino tied the score at 1-1 in the 75th minute and Rademacher followed up with the game-winning goal with one-second remaining in the first overtime period.
"I had so much adrenaline, I was just running as fast as I could and I remember Jake tried to grab me and I threw him off and I ran to the bench and they grabbed me. It was such a relief," Rademacher says of his huge goal.
"It was the most intense game I've coached in my high school career and the most excited I've ever been to see a goal go in the net," says Aquinas Head Coach Lucas Eagon.17092440
But that sectional win is behind the Blugolds, who now try to avoid what happened to them the last time they played at state – a 5-0 loss in the WIAA State Championship Match in 2010, a moment many on this year's squad still clearly remember.
"It was pretty embarrassing actually," says Shane Hanna.
Vandenberg, the team's keeper during their last state run, sees what happened two seasons ago as valuable experience. "I know what to expect at state, the caliber of the shooters and how the teams are going to be. I'm more ready for it now."
"I dont think we've played our best soccer yet," says Eagon. "Hopefully the venue and the atmosphere at state will bring that out of these guys."
Aquinas (15-6-2) will face Winnebago Lutheran (18-5-3) in the WIAA Division 3 State Semifinal this Friday at 9 a.m. at Time Warner Stadium at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.