Sometimes the best fuel is revenge.

After a heartbreaking sectional semifinal loss to Madison West last season, Verona got some revenge with a 4-0 Big Eight Conference win over the Regents on Thursday, April 21, at Goodman Sports Complex in Madison.

“This one was a little bit of sweet revenge,” Verona head coach Jen Faulkner said. “We lost in the playoffs on a PK in a game that we really competed well in on this field. Coming here was a little bit traumatic for some of these kids. That really fueled their intensity. West is always one of our hardest competitors, to get such a convincing win this early in the season will really fuel these girls.”

Not only did the victory redeem last season’s postseason defeat, but it also was the Wildcats’ first win over the Regents since 2011. In that stretch, Madison West had beaten Verona five times and tied eight times.

“It means everything to us,” said senior defender Lauren Simonett on the win. “Last season was a heartbreaking game. We were expecting to go farther, but it ended really suddenly. We were just playing with our hearts this entire game. We wanted it. I could tell by the time we walked off the bus we wanted this game.”

After a scoreless first half, Verona (2-0, 1-0 Big Eight) found the back of the net four times — all coming from different players — in the second.

“We talked about shooting the ball, I know that seems really simple,” Faulkner said. “We did a lot of possessing in the first half and we didn’t look to finish. As soon as we looked to the net and finished that first one it kind of opened it up for us.”

Izzy Plesac gave the Wildcats — ranked No. 10 in Division 1 — a quick lead out of the break as the sophomore scored 25 seconds into the second half. The goal was assisted by freshman Lilliah Blum.

In the 46th, junior Courtney Schmidt made it 2-0 when she lofted a shot over the keeper’s head. Freshman Eily Duffy was credited with the assist.

Junior Linsey Trapino extended the Verona lead to 3-0 with a score in the 56th.

Madison West got pressure on the Wildcat defense, but senior goalie Elsa Queoff had a pair of point-blank saves in the 68th minute and 72nd minute to keep Verona’s clean sheet intact.

“I think Elsa played her box really well,” Faulkner said. “She really protected her shutout. She matched the intensity that West brought into the 18-yard box and had really good positioning and grit.”

Junior Evalyn Lotta found Blum for a goal in the 74th to cap off the scoring.

Madison West was averaging 4.3 goals over its last three games entering Thursday night.

“We shutdown their main attackers,” said Simonett, who was selected as an all-state honorable mention defender last season. “The players on the outsides are normally a pretty big threat for us. Our outside backs did a really good job of holding them down. Us at center back, we just cleaned up everything, stayed tight and talked the whole time.”

While last season’s playoff loss fueled Verona Thursday, the Wildcats are hoping their win over the Regents can do the same thing going forward.

“It definitely gives us a confidence boost,” Simonett said. “We’re going to stay focused and not let this get to our heads. We’re going to let it fuel us because that’s how we know we can play.”

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