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Bowed but still proud PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Ostermann   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 14:23

Shootout heartbreaker in state semifinals ends season for gritty Grafton soccer team

The tears, bowed heads and consoling hugs said it all.

COACH DON ARNOLD consoled his players after the Grafton girls’ soccer team lost to Waukesha West in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals.       Photo by Sam Arendt

Try as they might, members of the Grafton girls’ soccer team couldn’t escape the harsh reality of a season-ending loss one day shy of their goal — a spot in the WIAA Division 1 state title game at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.

After battling Waukesha West in an intense semifinal match last Friday night that was scoreless through 100 minutes of regulation and two overtimes, the Black Hawks saw their dream of winning it all dashed.

West advanced to the final after prevailing, 4-2, on penalty kicks in a shootout.

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the way our girls played in this game,” Grafton coach Don Arnold said after reminding his squad of its many accomplishments.

“They gave everything they had out there. We had some great opportunities to win it, but so did Waukesha West. It’s a shame that a game like this has to be decided on penalty kicks, but that’s the way it goes.”

Cassie Blase gave West the last word when she slipped a shot past Grafton goalkeeper Alissa Viste on the fourth set of penalty kicks. The score gave the Wolverines an insurmountable lead in the five-set shootout, during which Grafton missed two of its four attempts.

Although the game was officially counted as a tie, the Hawks found little consolation in seeing a stellar season end with a 24-2-4 mark. Missed scoring chances haunted Grafton, which piled up a 21-9 edge in shots but couldn’t crack keeper Stephanie Hendren and a West defense that didn’t allow a goal for the 12th straight game.

ANGIE MANN (right) raced past a Waukesha West defender during Grafton’s state tournament game Friday.                    Photo by Sam ArendtHannah Eichler had the Hawks’ two closest misses in regulation.

In the 23rd minute, the junior forward tracked down a free ball behind the West defense and launched a shot from the right wing that bounced off the far post.

In the 79th minute, Eichler again eluded a defender at the top of the box and drove a shot toward the upper half of the net. However, Hendren punched the ball over the crossbar and then corralled a loose ball in the box on Grafton’s ensuing corner kick.

The Wolverines, who improved to 21-0-4, also had several scoring opportunities. Their best chance came in the 74th minute when Leah Seib sent a shot past Viste only to have the ball cleared at the last second by Emma Fatla.

“Both teams had their chances. It was pretty even,” Eichler said. “We worked really hard the whole game, but we couldn’t get a goal.

“I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

As stingy as West’s defense was, the Hawks remained confident they would find the net, according to Arnold.

“We looked at game film and saw some things we thought we could do against them,” he said.

“We really kept the pressure on them and kept working hard. There wasn’t any question we could score, but it just didn’t happen.”

Both teams stepped up attacks in the 10-minute overtimes.

A West run early in the second extra period ended when a ball sent into the box was cleared. In the 97th minute, Eichler centered the ball to Fatla, but her shot soared over the net.

The shootout quickly turned in West’s favor when attempts by Carley Pfannerstill and Eichler both sailed wide. Alyssa Arnold and Tess Safstrom scored for the Hawks against Hendren, but the Wolverines converted all four of their tries against Viste.

“We liked our chances going into the shootout,” coach Arnold said. “We’ve had a number of games decided by penalty kicks this year, so it wasn’t anything we weren’t comfortable with. But you never know how these things will work out.”

For Eichler, the loss was a bitter experience, but one she tried to put in perspective amid the postgame somberness.

“We have a lot to be proud of this year. We accomplished a lot,” she said. “It’s just really hard to have it end this way.”

Grafton, a young team with only one senior — defender Cassey Patula — on its roster, had one of its best seasons ever. The Hawks won a share of their first North Shore Conference title and set numerous records, including most victories, on the way to their fourth consecutive state appearance.

West appeared in its fifth straight state tournament but again failed to win a championship. On Saturday, the Wolverines fell to Appleton North, 1-0, in the title game.

 
Hawks shine as diamond streak hits 5 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Ostermann   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 14:21

Grafton baseball team uses strength in numbers to turn corner in NSC play


Less than a year removed from a memorable season that culminated in a trip to the WIAA state tournament, Grafton baseball coach Brian Durst made a bold assessment of his 2011 team.

“I think we’ve proven we’re a better all-around team this year than last year,”  Durst said after watching the Black Hawks edge Whitefish Bay, 5-4, in nine innings for their
fifth straight win last Friday.

“We had some great players last season, but this team is more balanced and has more depth.”

Grafton, which rode the strong arm of pitcher Conor Fisk to a 21-10 record in 2010, opened some eyes last week by ripping off four consecutive wins in North Shore
Conference play.

Since Fisk graduated, the Hawks have used multiple arms to pick up slack and improved to 5-4 in the NSC and 8-4 overall.

A different Grafton pitcher won each game last week, most recently senior  Ryan Schmitt, who turned in three innings of scoreless relief against Bay.

After overcoming deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 to force extra innings, the Hawks prevailed with a workmanlike rally in the bottom of the ninth.

B.J. Weisflog walked to start the frame and raced to third base on a single by Ryan Donahue. After intentionally walking Robbie Doring, reliever Joe Fiorita struck out Alex Nennig.

However, Beau Benzschawel spoiled the Dukes’ escape plans by cracking a single over the right fielder’s head for the game winner.

“It couldn’t have been a more exciting high school baseball game,” Durst said. “We had to keep battling against a team that was in first place at the time.

“We had to do all the little things to win this one.”

Bay, which fell to 5-3, jumped ahead quickly by scoring three runs off starter Nate Lukas in the opening inning. In addition to having two infield errors behind him, the
freshman left-hander gave up a two-run homer to Johnny Markwiese.

However, Lukas settled down after that and allowed just one more run in six innings of work.

“Nate is a real promising young pitcher and did a great job of keeping us close,” Durst said.

The Hawks wasted no time wiping out Bay’s early strike with a three-run rally of its own in the first.

After Weisflog and Donahue singled, Doring laced a two-run double and moved to third base on a groundout. Benzschawel’s infield single tied the game at 3-3.

The Dukes regained the lead with a run in the third and remained ahead until the bottom of the fifth. Singles by the Weisflog brothers, Choo and B.J., were followed by a
one-out RBI base hit by Doring.

Schmitt replaced Lukas in the sixth and shut the Dukes down the rest of the way with help from catcher Ben Ernster, who threw out a would-be base stealer in the ninth.

“Ryan really came through for us. He gives us another arm to use at the end of games, so our starters only have to go four or five innings,” Durst said.

Grafton was poised to win the game in the eighth when it loaded the bases with no outs. But Fiorita wriggled out of the jam by retiring the final three batters on a strikeout, pop-up and fly ball.

Grafton 7, Slinger 5

The Hawks built a five-run lead and withstood a late rally by the home team to secure a conference win June 16.

After scoring four times in the first, Grafton stretched the advantage to 6-1 in the fourth.

Slinger pulled within 6-4 after five innings, but the Hawks picked up an insurance run in the seventh.

After Nennig pitched the first four innings, Grafton turned to three relievers. Ryan Hartwig worked one inning and Doring went 1-2/3 innings before giving way to Schmitt
after the Owls loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh.

Schmitt struck out the final batter to save the win.

Donahue led Grafton with a 3-for-3 effort, and Benzschawel was 2-for-4 with a double and triple.

“It was an exciting, gut-wrenching game,” Durst said. “We needed contributions from everyone to win.”

The victory was Grafton’s first at Slinger in recent memory, Durst said.

Grafton 10, Germantown 5

A 15-hit attack carried the Hawks to a  league win at home June 14.

Grafton scored three runs in the first, two runs in the third and five runs in the fourth while building a 10-3 lead.

Donahue went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI, and Nennig was 3-for-4 with two RBI. Doring and B.J. Weisflog each had two hits.

Grafton opened last week with a 4-1 win over West Bend East on June 13.

This week, the Hawks were scheduled to face Nicolet on Monday and Cedarburg on Tuesday and play road games at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Whitefish Bay and at
7:30 p.m. Friday at Sheboygan Falls.

Grafton will then play 5:30 p.m. games at home against West Bend West on June 27 and on the road against Homestead on June 28.

 
Ozaukee, Port fall in tight Monday games PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 22 June 2011 14:21

A pitchers’ duel didn’t work in favor of the Ozaukee High School baseball team Monday.

Patrick Kroening allowed only three hits, but host Ozaukee struggled at the plate and fell to Howards Grove, 3-1, in a Central Lakeshore Conference game.

Kroening pitched a complete game, giving up single runs in the second, fifth and seventh innings. He walked six and struck out seven.

However, the Warriors managed only two hits, singles by Jim D’Angelo and Sean Job. D’Angelo drove in their lone run in the first inning.

The loss dropped Ozaukee to 5-3 in CLC play and 5-6 overall.

In a local North Shore Conference game Monday, Port Washington lost to West Bend East, 4-1.

The Suns outhit Port, 5-3.

The Pirates fell to 2-7 in the conference and 3-11 overall. East improved to 4-6 and 7-9.

Two other Monday games involving local teams were postponed due to rain — Cedar Grove-Belgium at Oostburg, and Grafton at Nicolet.

 
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