Grafton soccer team uses familiar formula to secure spot in WIAA state tournament for 3rd straight season
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a math whiz to calculate the keys to success in soccer.
Play heads-up defense, apply steady offensive pressure and convert your scoring chances, and you’ll be chalking up victories.
The Grafton Black Hawks continued to blend all the right ingredients last Saturday night when they blew past Seymour, 4-0, to win a WIAA Division 2 sectional title and earn their third straight trip to the state tournament.
“Things have come together very well,” said Grafton coach Don Arnold, whose team posted its seventh straight shutout and improved to 19-5-2.
“It‘s not just the ability part, but it’s all about chemistry, playing together as a team. That’s what the girls are doing so well.”
The Hawks will face Madison Edgewood in a state semifinal game at noon Friday at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
As the defending Division 2 state champion, Edgewood will present a tough challenge, but Grafton has certainly primed itself for the next level.
Scoring two goals in each half, the host Hawks overpowered a talented Seymour squad that brought a 20-2-2 record into the sectional final.
After Tess Safstrom put Grafton on the board with a goal in the sixth minute with an assist from Alyssa Arnold, the margin grew to 2-0 in the 35th minute. Hannah Eichler did the honors with a solo effort.
A two-goal flurry in a two-minute span of the second half delivered the knockout punch.
Eichler, a sophomore forward, struck again with a goal, assisted by Hannah Knauer, at 55:04. Arnold capped the scoring with an
assist from Emma Fatla at 56:57.
“Part of our defense is that explosive offense, which keeps the other team on its heels,” coach Arnold said. “When they have to stay back because we’re on the attack, they can’t take too many chances against us.”
When opponents have stepped up their own attacks, Grafton continues to be equal to the challenge defensively. Seymour was outshot, 20-5, with all five of its attempts saved by keeper Alyssa Viste.
“After Tess got that first goal for us, I think the girls got real comfortable playing,” Arnold said. “We got the nerves out and relaxed and just focused on what we had to do.”
Arnold expects more of the same from his team in the state semifinals.
“Most of our players have been there before and know what to expect,” he said. “There will be butterflies, but if we go out there and play our game, we’ll be all right.”
With Saturday’s win, the Hawks have outscored their last seven foes, 30-0.
Grafton 2, Sheboygan Falls 0
Shaking off a slow start, the host Hawks regrouped for a sectional semifinal win June 10.
The first half nearly ended in a scoreless deadlock. However, Carley Pfannerstill gave Grafton the only goal it needed when she scored in the 37th minute with an assist from Maddy Huibregtse.
Fatla added an insurance goal in the 50th minute, assisted by Molly McElligott.
“We came our very tight in this game and couldn’t get on track right away,” coach Arnold said.
The Hawks held an 18-3 edge in shots.
Falls ended the season 19-4-1.
ANGIE MANN (left) jostled with a Sheboygan Falls player during Grafton’s 2-0 win in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game June 10. Photo by Sam Arendt