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ALTONMarquette Catholic's girls soccer team played a fairly difficult schedule this season, playing several large schools for a good reason: to get the Explorers ready for the postseason.

It wasn't the easiest of schedules and it left Marquette with a record of 9-9-3 heading into their IHSA Class 1A Marquette Regional semifinal match with Metro East Lutheran Tuesday afternoon.

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“I told the kids that we play such a rough schedule that, starting Tuesday, it's a rerack,” said Explorer coach Steve Mitchell following the Explorers' 9-0 win over the Knights at Gordon Moore Park. “The records go out the window and the competition at (class) 1A is a little bit different than at 3A, so they have to understand it's a regroup.

“They were hanging their heads a little bit; we were getting beat up by some of the bigger schools...we were nursing some injuries but to come in here today, play the ball out wide – we were knocking it around pretty good and everyone was going to the goal. Playoffs, it's one game at at time; I just told the kids, just because you won today 9-0, Friday's a different game.”

Marquette scored in the fourth minute on an Adrianna Schindler goal from Clair Dalton and, as Knight coach Noah Enke put it, “first goal and boom. Hopefully next year, we can hopefully get out of those patterns a little bit and know the game's not over until the final whistle blows. It doesn't matter if you go up against a team that's probably going to contend for state or a team you can beat 10-0; you're going to have to play that team as best as you can.”

Despite the loss, Enke was pleased with his team; the Knights had gone winless until the final game of the regular season, a 1-0 win over McGivney Catholic and then a win over East Alton-Wood River Saturday in the regional's play-in match. “I”m super-proud of my girls,” Enke said. “When we came in this year, we had eight completely fresh who had never played or even touched a soccer ball before.

“I told them, 'we can't expect to win games during regular seasons when you don't have a team that doesn't know how to play the game,' I told them that this whole season was going to be us getting on the same page so we can really attack some teams on the post.”

Following Schindler's goal, the Explorers got first-half goals from Elisa Senno, Bailey Hartrich, Taylor Aguirre and Lauren Walsh to get out to a 5-0 lead. Schindler and Senno scored early in the second half to invoke the IHSA's mercy rule, which cuts the remaining time in the match to half at that point; Annie Tassanari and Natalie Brown scored the Explorers' final two goals of the match.

The win put Marquette into Friday's regional final against Roxana, 7-0 winners over McGivney Catholic (see related story); the match commences at 4:30 p.m. at Gordon Moore Park, with the winner advancing into next week's Belleville Althoff Sectional.

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