NEENAH — When it comes to girls soccer, the Packerland Conference in recent years has been led by St. Mary Central and Sturgeon Bay, but this season there has been a change.
Wrightstown has pushed aside the usual suspects atop the conference and is on pace to win its first conference title since 2008.
Usually in the spring, when it comes to girls sports it comes down to one girl at Wrightstown — seven-time state track and field champ Bonnie Draxler, but this year she has company.
"This team is capable of whatever they want to accomplish at the end,” Tigers coach Scott Nicholas said. “They have to stay focused and play soccer and the only thing that seems to get in their way is themselves."
That was true Tuesday, when the Tigers (10-1-1, 6-0) started slow and found themselves trailing 1-0 at St. Mary Central. Nicholas gathered the team at halftime and whatever he said worked as the Tigers scored two second-half goals to remain perfect in conference play.
Tuesday’s win doesn’t guarantee anything, but Wrightstown owns a two-game lead over Sturgeon Bay and Kewaunee in the loss column. The players say it would be a big deal to win the conference title.
"It's a big deal,” senior captain McKenna Rohan said. “We worked hard in the offseason to get here and it's a good feeling."
Nicholas isn’t surprised by his team’s play. The Tigers have outscored opponents, 33-6, and 10 different players have scored, led by Tayler Falck’s seven goals.
"I believe they were capable of this, they just had to believe in themselves and believe in the system we're putting in,” he said. “This is our second year as a coaching staff with them so they're really adapting and working hard to get where we need to be."
If there was any doubt about the changing of the guard in the Packerland, maybe Tuesday erased all doubt. Tuesday’s win marked the first time Wrightstown swept St. Mary Central and Sturgeon Bay in the same season for the first time in eight years.
"The past couple years I've been here, it's been Sturgeon Bay and St. Mary's at the top,” Rohan said. “This year, we took out both of them already. It feels good to be on top but we got to keep working. Even the ones from behind, anyone can come up, like us and take it with hard work."
Wrightstown is at the halfway point of the conference season and has six games left in conference play. The players know what’s at stake and are eyeing a perfect conference season.
"There's pressure because you want to keep winning, but you got to take each at a time,” Rohan said. “You have to look at one step, one game ahead; you're not looking any farther. You just take one game and play as hard as you can for that one and keep going."
That formula seems to be working.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay