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  • Val T.

Banks for the memories: Sisters help Culver edge Rochester in girls soccer sectional

Williams scores twice in second half, but Lady Zs’ season ends


Sports Editor, RTC

ARGOS –- The Rochester girls soccer team had a 15-6 advantage in shots on goal and an 11-0 edge in corner kicks against Culver in their Class 1A, Sectional 35 quarterfinal at Argos’ Eugene Snyder Field on Oct. 5.

But even with those advantages, Rochester coach Chantal Rensberger knows how a promising season can fizzle out after a promising regular season. She remembers it happening to her when she was a player at Argos.

And it happened again against Culver.

Kassidy Banks scored twice, and Kaylee Hamilton and Kenzie Banks also scored for the Lady Cavaliers in a 4-3 win that propelled them into the semifinals.

Culver never trailed. Kassidy Banks scored both of her goals in the first half, and that spurred Culver to a 2-0 halftime lead. Giselle Villegas assisted on both goals.

Culver improved to 14-3 and will play Argos next. Argos topped Bremen 2-0 in the other quarterfinal.

The win was Culver’s first in a sectional game since the start of multi-class soccer in 2011. Culver did not field a girls soccer squad in 2014 and 2015 due to lack of numbers, and they have improved from eight to 10 to 14 wins and counting over the last three years.

“I told them to come out with as much energy as possible,” Culver coach A.J. Neace said. “Nothing against Rochester, but they do not trap the ball well in the back half, and I told my girls, ‘Run through the ball as much as you can.’ Kassidy Banks had that one goal that bounced off her face as she ran through the ball and put it in.”

It was also their second win over the Lady Zs this year. Culver also won at Rochester 3-2 on Sept. 2 in their regular season meeting.

Amy Williams scored twice for Rochester, who finished the season 9-5-1. They had won their final six regular season games coming into the postseason.

But just like the Sept. 2 matchup, they missed two penalty kicks.

“You can’t score goals when you kick to the goalie,” Rensberger said. “We came out very flat. They scored 31 seconds into the game. We had a lot of defensive errors which left Kaillie very vulnerable this afternoon. She’s a hell of a goalie, and she feels like it’s all her fault, and it’s not. We missed two PKs. We practiced PKs for two weeks straight, and the two girls that I put up there are money. That’s one and two every single time.”

Rochester scored all three of their goals in the second half, but they also missed two penalty kicks in the final 14:57. Lilith Eaton missed the first one off the crossbar with Rochester trailing 3-1.

Kenzie Banks’ goal from the penalty spot with 12:56 left made it 4-1.

Then Williams struck twice in a 4:20 span.

She scored with 11:18 left off an Emma Howdeshell assist. Then she scored in a similar style again with 6:58 left, sprinting in from the left flank and finishing off an Emily Basham assist to make it 4-3.

By this point, senior goalkeeper Sophia Heath was back in for Culver. She had left twice in favor of backup Katie Schouten with an apparent back injury.

Heath had a save with 5:10 left, and Eaton put a shot just over the net with 4:40 left.

Rochester was awarded another penalty kick with 3:55 left, but Mackie Leslie’s attempt was wide left.

Rensberger said the team had been “unfocused” in practice the last two weeks.

“Am I sad? I am sad. Am I frustrated? I’m super frustrated. But, you know, it’s a 0-0 slate in sectional, and everybody knows that. When I played, we were 13-0, we came out (and lost) second game of sectional. It happens. I’ve blown a PK over for a regional championship, and we lose. I’ve been in their position, and I know the heartbreak those girls feel. But at the same time, it’s ballgame time in sectional, and everybody’s here to win.”

Said Kaylee Hamilton: “All you’re thinking is please don’t go in, please don’t go in, we got this. Just keep your heads up. And some girls were getting down, and we were just like, ‘Keep your heads up. We’re still ahead. Anything can happen.’”

The first of Kassidy Banks’ goals came 31 seconds into the game when she beat Rochester goalkeeper Kaillie Woods with a low shot from in front.

A left-footed finish from Kassidy Banks made it 2-0 with 21:50 left in the half.

Rochester had a 10-3 advantage in shots on goal and a 6-0 edge in corner kicks in the first half but trailed by two.

Rochester’s first goal was an own-goal with 29:24 left in the game. Emily Basham’s shot deflected off a Culver player and into the net to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Heath left for the second time with 26:52 left.

Schouten stopped a Macie Nelson shot, and Culver re-assumed a two-goal lead when freshman Maddy Hamilton set up older sister Kaylee for a goal to make it 3-1 with 25:17 left.

But the player that Kaylee Hamilton, a junior, might have the longest association with is Villegas, a sophomore.

“We’re really close,” Kaylee Hamilton said of her relationship with Villegas. “We’ve been playing soccer together since sixth grade or seventh grade, I believe, and we’ve been doing travel ball, rec ball and high school ball together.”

Culver’s Kaylee Hamilton Rochester’s Amy Williams

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