Rangers wins Lakeland Conference soccer titlePublished 9:54pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013
CASSOPOLIS — A shorthanded Cassopolis girls soccer team made school history Wednesday against Bridgman.
Led by Meagan Ruff’s hat trick, the Rangers beat the Bees, 4-0, to claim the outright Lakeland Conference title. It’s the first league title for the Cassopolis girls soccer program, which has been a varsity sport for only four years.
But there were mixed emotions throughout the Rangers team after the triumph. There was a subdued celebration because of an injury suffered by standout senior Jessica Waldschmidt. Waldschmidt suffered an apparent leg injury with 30:18 left in the match. Waldschmidt had 12 of the Rangers 14 corner kicks and her corner kick set up Ruff’s goal on a header with 36:10 left in the match. That was the first goal in the match.
“There are a bunch of emotions that go through you,” said Cassopolis coach Oli Olafsson, whose team stands at 9-4 overall and finishes at 3-0 in the conference. “The first thing I thought was that (Waldschmidt) has a lot of years ahead of her and I hope there’s nothing serious so she can continue playing. I was less concerned about this game and our season. I was really concerned about her. I hope she’s OK. I have no idea what the injury is. It’s hard to say. It could be something as simple as a twisted knee.”
Cassopolis picked up its play without Waldschmidt and scored three more goals and had eight more shots on goal over the the final 30:18. Bridgman had no shots on goal in the second half.
“Fantastic,” Olafssson said about this team’s play after Waldschmidt left the game. “It was amazing. I was in a little bit of an emotional turmoil myself and worried about (Waldschmidt) and trying to focus on coaching at the same time. I was a little bit out of it, but the players sure weren’t. They stepped right up and took care of business. Kudos to them. It shows what kind of character this team has.”
It’s the second career hat trick trick for Ruff, who added a penalty kick goal with 18:43 left in the match and a goal on a header off a corner kick from Marissa Waldschmidt with 14:14 left in the contest.
“Oh my goodness,” said Ruff about the team’s performance. “It’s been a long time coming, being conference champs my senior year. This is what we’ve been working for and finally it came true.”
Ruff was asked about her emotions when her teammate went down with an injury.
“To step up,” Ruff said. “I knew that she had to go out and she was devastated. I had to play for her too.”
Cassopolis’ final goal came from Jaleesa Garner with 6:00 left in the match.
“I think (a conference title) means a lot to this team and the school,” Olafsson said. “The seniors set a goal of being a conference champion when they were freshmen.”
In the first half, Cassopolis outshot Bridgman, 7-3, and had eight corner kicks compared to only one for Bridgman. Despite that big offensive edge the Rangers were unable to score over the first 40 minutes. The Rangers did have a goal by Ruff taken away because of an offsides penalty.
“In the first half, we were playing into the wind and having a really tough time with those corners,” Olafsson said. “Usually, we’re really strong on set plays and score a lot on set plays.”
Bridgman 0, Cassopolis 0
C – Meagan Ruff (Jessica Waldschmidt) 36:10
C – Ruff (penalty kick) 18:43
C – Ruff (Marissa Waldschmidt) 14:14
C – Jaleesa Garner 6:00
Shots on goal
Bridgman 3, Cassopolis 19
Bridgman 3 (Megan Adams)
Cassopolis 3 (Molly Moroz)
Bridgman 1, Cassopolis 14
Varsity records: Cassopolis 9-4, 3-0 Lakeland; Bridgman 6-5-1, 2-1 Lakeland