It’s merely an exhibition, but Rachel Wagner’s competitive juices are flowing nonetheless.
Putting on the cleats and shin guards — like she’ll do Saturday in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association-Masonic All-Star Game at UW-Whitewater — tends to have that affect on the former Mayville prep girls soccer player.
“I won’t be playing with my whole team, but being able to just play and get out there again, I’m really excited,” said Wagner, who led the state in goals this spring. “I’m really pumped — yeah, I’m ready to play.”
There’s an added bonus, too. Wagner won’t have all of her teammates along for the ride, but she will have one — Kennah Konrad — who she grew up playing with throughout the years.
“I ref for the youth soccer and when I see them playing it makes me miss it so much more. Being able to do this with Kennah — she’s an incredible player and I’m really looking forward to it,” Wagner said. “I’m sad to say this is my last (game), but at least I get to do it with her.”
The feeling is mutual, as it turns out.
“I’m definitely glad that me and Rachel get to play one last time together,” said Konrad, the state’s assists leader this spring. “Most people don’t expect to get to play with their high school teammates ever again after their high school careers.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 5 years old and it’s really — it’s definitely bittersweet. I’m excited to go but when Saturday comes and the game is over, that’s pretty much the end of the road.”
It is — and the fact that it is is one more reason to celebrate, Mayville coach Dale Amundson said.
“Seeing those two play again — it’s going to be a while before we have somebody like Rachel and Kennah coming along,” he said. “We do have a lot of talent coming up, so you never know. It would be great — I hope so. … (But) I’m going to miss those two.”
As far as their soccer futures go, neither are continuing in college. But academically, both look bright, with Konrad headed off to UW-Madison with plans on studying biology on a pre-med track and Wagner headed off to UW-La Crosse intent on studying science and health.
Wagner’s 50 goals this season were the most in the state counting all four divisions, according to WisSports.net.
But Wagner — who received honorable mention WSCA All-State accolades, marking the first time a Mayville girl has made the All-State list — was adept at more than just putting the ball in the net as she also tied for second in the state with 23 assists, giving her a state-best 123 points.
“She’s just a very unselfish player — both of those players are,” Amundson said.
Like Wagner, Konrad could also find the net. And her state-best 26 assists combined with her 33 goals — tied for sixth in the state — gave her the third most points in the state with 92.
Together, the two girls are making Mayville’s first-ever appearances at the state All-Star game.
“It’s a pretty cool thing to have happen,” Amundson said.
The weekend is about more than just soccer, though, as the two girls will report to Whitewater tonight for team bonding activities — bowling, swimming, and a pizza party are among the things listed on the itinerary — that continue Friday sandwiched around practice for Saturday’s game.
Players selected for the game are done so from a pool of nominees based on academic achievement leadership skills, community involvement and playing ability. And the purpose of the event — which is put on by the Wisconsin Masonic Soccer Foundation and also includes a breakfast banquet honoring the players Saturday morning and a boys game following the girls game — is to raise funds for scholarships to send underprivileged youth to soccer camps.
This year, though, there’s an additional purpose as far as the Mayville contingency is concerned.
“It puts us on the map — it just shows that our school has an up and coming program,” Konrad said. “We can’t go unnoticed anymore — we have players playing in the All-Star game and players getting recognized. I’m very proud to be part of the team and represent the Mayville soccer community.”