Sabers claim regional soccer title

Sabers claim regional soccer title

CHAMPAIGN — Just like last year, St. Thomas More won a girls’ soccer regional title Friday night.

Unlike last year, the Sabers played it relatively cool afterward.

“It was subdued,” Sabers coach James Johnson said. “Last year winning (a regional) was the pinnacle for us.

“We want more than this. We’re looking for bigger and better things.”

Jade Brinkoetter scored twice and Lexi Wallen collected her 11th shutout as the Sabers beat Uni High 3-0 in Class 1A action at the UI turf fields. The win sends St. Thomas More to a loaded sectional at Bloomington Central Catholic. The Sabers will open against Peoria Christian at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with perennial power Quincy Notre Dame likely next in line.

“From Day 1, we’ve made it a goal to get to state,” said Johnson, whose 13-5-1 team is three wins from reaching Naperville. “It’s a lofty goal. Tonight was an important step.”

Brinkoetter, who set the tone with two first-half goals, has 23 on the season. “She’s a game-changer,” Johnson said.

She’s also the ringleader of a senior class that started with a two-win season as freshmen but turned the Sabers into the area’s premier small-school program.

“I credit those seniors for turning it around,” Johnson said. “They were willing to put in the hard work to make it happen.”

Michaela Ward iced the win in the second half with her 10th goal of the season.

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