There wasn't much separating Sauk Prairie and Mount Horeb in Monday night's girls soccer game between two of the top teams in the Badger North Conference.
The teams went toe-to-toe for much of the night, but Sauk Prairie eventually suffered a 2-0 home loss, the Eagles' first Badger North loss of the season.
"That was a tough one," Sauk Prairie head coach Mike Rauls said. "We just ran into a really solid team. We knew coming in that Mount Horeb was going to require the best of us. We pushed, we played hard, we played together and we battled. I thought we had some warriors out there tonight, but we just couldn't find the back of the net.
"It's respectable, but it's not the desired product that we wanted today. We wanted to win this game and to move up in the conference. This was an opportunity to do so and we let it go. But I'm really proud of the girls. They battled."
Mount Horeb (6-2-1, 4-0-0 Badger North) broke the scoring open when Abby Drexler assisted Makyla Severson to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead 33 minutes, 54 seconds into the first half.
Sauk Prairie goalkeeper Molly Pistono made a nice save in the 41st minute, while the Eagles (10-3-1, 3-1-0) also shut down a Mount Horeb corner kick to go into halftime with a 1-0 deficit.
The Eagles continued to fend off Mount Horeb chances early in the second half. However, the Vikings broke through again at the 69:58 mark, as Maggie Conway assisted Sydney King to give Mount Horeb a 2-0 lead.
Sauk Prairie's best scoring opportunity came in the 82nd minute. Macey Breunig's shot from the right side of the penalty box got past a diving Grace Droessler, Mount Horeb's goalkeeper, and found the foot of Riley Breunig. Breunig sent it toward the goal line, but Droessler came diving back into the picture to keep the ball in the field of play. There was a brief discussion between the referees about whether or not the ball crossed the line, but the play stood and Sauk Prairie went on to suffer a 2-0 loss.
"We were down two (goals) with a minute left and they were still pushing hard and giving it all they've got," Rauls said. "We don't back down from anybody."
The loss was Sauk Prairie's first defeat since a 1-0 home loss to Monona Grove on April 24, ending the Eagles' 8-0-1 stretch in their last nine games.
"Hats off to Mount Horeb," Rauls said. "They're a tough team and if we want to move up in conference we've got to beat them."
The Eagles will look to get back in the win column when they host a Badger North game against Waunakee on Thursday. The Badger North title is still in reach for the Eagles, but they'll need a bit of help after losing to Mount Horeb. The Vikings (4-0) stand alone atop the Badger North standings, followed by Waunakee (4-1), Sauk Prairie (3-1) and DeForest (3-2).
"We're still working on building the confidence of 'hey, we really can play with the top teams in the conference and in the area,'" Rauls said. "When we're on our game, we're on our game."