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Prep Girls Soccer | Chi-Hi Cardinals

Prep Girls Soccer: After leading Chi-Hi return to prominence, standout Mason represents team one more time at WSCA Senior All-Star Game

Eau Claire Memorial at Chi-Hi girls soccer 5-24-22

Chi-Hi's Haley Mason winds up for a shot during a game against Eau Claire Memorial on May 24 at Dorais Field.

Haley Mason’s impact on the Chi-Hi girls soccer program can’t be measured by stats or accolades.

Even though both have been expansive and impressive.

The recently graduated Mason will represent the Cardinals one more time next weekend in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game in Madison. Mason will suit up for the girls gold team that plays at 11:30 a.m. next Saturday at Breese Stevens Stadium.

The game will be a fitting end of Mason’s prep career as she gets the chance to play alongside some of the best players in the state after helping the Cardinal program return to prominence. A two-sport standout who also qualified for the Division 1 state cross country championships four times, Mason excelled both on the course and pitch for the Cardinals but said soccer has always been her first love. Starting with the sport in parks and recreation leagues at the age of 4, Mason quickly grew to love the team aspect of soccer as well as the always changing tempo of the game.

“They both overlap, and they get you in shape for each other,” Mason said of soccer and cross country.

Mason earned All-Big Rivers Conference honorable mention honors as a freshman for a winless Chi-Hi squad. Then an assistant coach, now Chi-Hi head coach Al Ali said it didn’t take long to see the Cardinals had a true impact player on their hands.

“We knew from the moment she got here she was going to be a special player for us,” Ali said of Mason. “To the level she going to get, we couldn’t be that sure about it. We always have kids come in and show a lot of stuff. But her work ethic and her drive really took her above and beyond what we thought she could be.”

Mason’s sophomore season was wiped out in 2020 as the entire spring sports season was canceled amid the initial rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her teammates came back in 2021 with an improved squad that finished 5-9-1 as Mason earned All-Big Rivers Conference first team accolades.

But this past spring was a true return to prominence for the Cardinals as Chi-Hi finished 12-6-2. The Cardinals were in the fight for the league championship into the final week and won the program’s first playoff game since 2011. The 12 victories for the team were the most in 11 years, and the team snapped a 20-game winless streak against Hudson in a 2-1 win on April 28, a moment Mason called the best of her high school career.

“Our team just really clicked that night, and it fueled us for the rest of the season and just brought us together,” Mason said of the win over the Raiders.

Mason certainly did her part, leading the team with 19 goals and nine assists while earning All-Big Rivers Conference first team honors for a second time.

“I don’t think we can measure how important that was because anyone who was at our games … we were a different team without her on the field,” Ali said of Mason. “Her work ethic pushed the rest of the girls. Her being able to do the things she did also gave the rest of the girls confidence that we can do some of this stuff as well.”

Ali said Mason’s combination of pure athleticism, natural talent and relentless work ethic is what has made her successful both in sports and in the classroom.

“She set a good example so we’re hoping that sets the example going forward and everybody strives to beat her and not just look at her and (think) how great she was,” Ali said. “I want girls to think they can get above that.”

Mason also hopes the program can continue to build.

“I think it’s a really big accomplishment for our program,” Mason said of the team’s return to prominence. “I hope they continue to go up in the BRC and put in the hours in the offseason because I think that’s a big thing that helped us was the dedication our team had the last four years.”

Mason will join Eau Claire Memorial midfielder Josie Barstad and River Falls midfielder Lindsey Szymanski as Big Rivers players on the gold team.

Following the all-star game, Mason will move onto Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn., where she will join the Mustangs girls soccer program playing in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“People will look at her statline and she’s a way better player than that,” Ali said of Mason. “We’re not going to be able to replace her on the field, on the sidelines, as a person and I think Southwest Minnesota State, they’re getting someone who’s going to be able to help them do special things for the next four years.”

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