(Cover photo credit: Conor Revell)
Sacred Heart midfielder Brielle Heuglin is only 4-foot-11, but she’s mighty on the field, and isn’t afraid of anyone.
Heuglin scored a goal and dished out an assist in Sacred Heart’s 4-0 victory over archrival visiting Assumption Sunday night to win the Jenna Cooper Memorial Cleat Game.
“Brielle isn’t the biggest player so what we have been working on with her is getting her to play stronger,” Sacred Heart head coach Jaclyn Puntillo said. “When you’re playing 18 year olds this can be a tough game. This one in particular is always physical. We’ve asked her to step up with the physical part of her game and she has responded with a lot of success.”
She was named Sacred Heart’s Jenna Cooper MVP for her efforts while Abbey Glover was named the Assumption MVP.
“I have no advantages because I have to be stronger,” Heuglin said. “Everybody is bigger than me so sometimes it’s tough and I have to go through with every tackle strong.”
Last year the Rockets (8-5-2) stunned the Valkyries (11-2-1) in the Cleat Game even though Sacred Heart went onto beat Assumption a month later in the Seventh Region championship game en-route to winning their first state title in six years.
Along with Heuglin stats, Kendall Groza also scored a goal and dished out an assist while Amber Sisler and Sophia Mankowski also recorded goals and Ashley Durik got an assist.
“We feel very strongly that the trophy should always come back where it came from,” Puntillo said. “Jenna Cooper was a Valkyrie and we feel that the trophy belongs at Sacred Heart. This game is always important for us. It’s not just this game that celebrates her life. We talk all year about what she embodies. But, her mom is a Rocket so this is a great day for both programs.”
Assumption goalkeeper Alysaa Campisano had played stellar up to this point and had only allowed four goals all season coming into the game.
“Goalkeepers play a lonely position,” Assumption head coach Andrew Quinn said. “You have to have a short memory. We will watch some film and talk to her about what she could have done differently. It’s more about how you respond to a game like this. We will get back on the training field and we will move onto the next game.”
The Valkyries fired 10 shots, Campisano made three saves.
“We’ve been working a lot with our transition offense,” Sisler said. “That has been our focus for the whole season. I think we did that a lot better tonight rather than shoot from so far out.”
Sarah Stodghill started in the goal for the Valkyries and saved four of the Rockets six shots.
Mankowski put Sacred Heart up 1-0 with 29:49 left in the first half when she received a pass from Heuglin and fired it into the right side of the goal.
“Someone (Cassie Amshoff) played a beautiful ball across, I just touched it across past the goalie and she just finished the shot off,” Heuglin said.
Groza made it 2-0 with 17:52 to go in the opening half after she received a pass from Durik and sent it past a diving Campisano.
“I think we just executed our game plan which was to go after defenders one v one when we could,” Puntillo said. “We wanted to challenge them a lot with some combinations inside the 18 rather than taking shots from midfield.”
Sisler gave the Valkyries a commanding 3-0 lead with 9:02 remaining in the first half when a Heuglin shot deflected off of Campisano and Sisler recovered the rebound and sent into the empty net.
“Brielle took it in and had a good shot,” Sisler said. “We have been working on following up our shots and I just touched it in.”
Heuglin scored off a Groza assist with 17:39 left to decide the final margin.
This is Assumption’s worst in state loss since losing 4-0 to Notre Dame on Sep. 16, 2013 in the Lexington Catholic Challenge Cup Tournament.
“I just think we didn’t handle the occasion well,” Quinn said. “We were a little nervous coming in. We hadn’t given up many goals this season. I think after we gave up a few goals we may have started to doubt ourselves and started to go away from the things that we normally do. That’s the one thing I would like to work on is that our response could have been a little bit better.”
Sacred Heart only has two games remaining and will play at Lakota West (Ohio) Saturday and host Bardstown Bethlehem Thursday Oct. 6.
Assumption has three games remaining and will play at Boyle County Saturday before hosting Oldham County Monday, Oct. 3 and Mercy Wednesday, Oct. 5.