Grafton soccer team gets unexpected gift in sectional win that punches 4th straight ticket to big show at Uihlein Field
MEMBERS OF THE Grafton soccer team celebrated during a sectional semifinal win over Germantown on June 9. Two days later, the Black Hawks defeated Cedarburg for the sectional title.
Photo by Sam Arendt Luck is often the residue of design, but the Grafton girls’ soccer team couldn’t have concocted a plan to win a title the way they did last Saturday.
Thanks to an inadvertent assist, the Black Hawks stunned Cedarburg, 3-2, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final at Brookfield East — and earned their fourth straight trip to the state tournament this week.
After the teams battled to a 2-2 tie through regulation and nearly 15 minutes of overtime, the match appeared headed for a shootout. But in the 95th minute, Grafton caught its biggest break of the season when Cedarburg defender Hannah Groth tried to clear the ball from her own goal, only to have it spin backward.
Groth’s header eluded Cedarburg keeper Chloe Felmer and rolled into the net for an “own goal” that gave the Hawks a heart-stopping victory.
“It was an amazing game. You never would have expected it to end that way,” said Grafton coach Don Arnold, whose team scored its third straight one-goal win in the playoffs.
“It was a lucky bounce for us and a bad break for Cedarburg, but you have to give us some credit for keeping the pressure on them. We created a ton of opportunities to score during the game and put the ball in position for something like that to happen.
“But sometimes it’s good to have luck on your side, too.”
Overshadowed by the shocking conclusion was a seesaw duel between two longtime North Shore Conference rivals and state-ranked teams. Intent on avenging a 1-0 loss to Cedarburg on May 26, the Hawks struck first.
Hannah Eichler scored on a penalty kick to put Grafton up, 1-0, in the 29th minute. However, the Bulldogs bounced back less than a minute later when Josee Stiever fed Andrea Doll for a tying goal.
The pattern continued in the second half. This time, Stiever — who had the lone goal in the May 26 game — put Cedarburg up, 2-1, at 65 minutes when she dribbled past two defenders and drove a shot past keeper Alissa Viste.
Grafton wasn’t to be denied, though. Emma Fatla came to the rescue, driving a shot past Felmer in the 70th minute that reknotted the game.
“We’ve had a lot of really tough games against Cedarburg, so it wasn’t a surprise that it was another close one,” Arnold said. “But it did come down to one big play again.”
Grafton, which finished No. 2 among Division 1 teams in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association’s final state poll, will take a 23-2-3 record into the state quarterfinals Thursday against Whitefish Bay at Uihlien Soccer Field (see related story).
Cedarburg, ranked No. 8, ended the season 15-3-1.
Grafton 2, Germantown 1
The Hawks overcame an early deficit to secure a sectional semifinal win at home June 9.
Germantown struck first on a goal by Jamie Karch in the 20th minute. However, Grafton gained control with a pair of scores from Fatla.
The senior tied the match with an assist from Eichler at 20:23 and capped the scoring with an unassisted goal in the 35th minute.
“Emma had a great game,” Arnold said. “She got us back into it pretty fast after Germantown scored, and we kept it going from there.”
Steady play by the Grafton defense was another key, Arnold noted. The Hawks were able to keep Germantown’s quick-strike offense off the board for the final 60 minutes, a stretch that included a clutch save by Viste on a penalty kick.
Germantown — which also lost to the Black Hawks, 1-0, in North Shore play — finished 13-5-1.