CG-Belgium soccer rules Big East

Rockets go unbeaten in the conference for the second straight season, prep for a deep playoff run

CEDAR GROVE-BELGIUM’S High School girls’ soccer team applauded its fans after beating Howards Grove, 2-0, last Thursday. The Rockets went on to beat Ozaukee on Friday and Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah on Monday to seal and undefeated Big East Conference season, their second straight dating to 2019. Photo by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Sharing is usually taught in kindergarten, but it doesn’t apply when it comes to soccer conference titles.

“I’m not much for sharing championships,” Cedar Grove-Belgium High School girls’ soccer coach Zac Garza said.

It turns out his team isn’t, either.

The Rockets knocked off Howards Grove last Thursday, 2-0, the last of the Big East Conference heavyweights they had to hurdle, then beat overmatched Ozaukee, 5-0, on Friday and Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah, 6-1, on Monday to seal their second straight undefeated conference title. The record dates to 2019 since last season was canceled.

“It’s just a really good feeling. We just work so hard at practice. We work hard in the games. The amount of love we share on the field helps so much toward the conference championship,” senior center midfielder Madison Bohacek said.

Bohacek scored the Rockets’ second goal on an assist by Genesis Ciske in the first half against Howards Grove. She needed help from her coach after the game to describe the play in which she dribbled through the defense. Scoring, she said, isn’t as fun as the immediate aftermath.

“After I scored, everyone was just there. The best part for me is getting together after the goal,” Bohacek said.

“We have really good chemistry. We always build each other up. We’re always giving each other high fives, always supporting each other.”

Senior defender Alyssa Mentink scored on a penalty kick for the Rockets’ first goal, with the ball taking a slight detour on the way to the net.

“I get nervous taking penalty kicks. When it hit the pole, I thought it wasn’t going in,” Mentink said.

The Tigers came out aggressive to start the second half, trying to get back into the game, but the Rockets fought off a barrage of shots. The Rockets knew the Tigers were dangerous after they scored three late goals to beat St. Mary Catholic, 4-3, on May 25.

“We have a really strong defense and they really came through in the clutch,” senior goalkeeper and co-captain Brooke Braga said.

The Rockets are used to playing with a lead and having opponents scramble.

“Sometimes, that will happen,” senior co-captain Cheyenne Simonet said. “We just get caught off guard and then we get back to it. We never underestimate anybody.”

Mentink credited senior Emilie Beaudry, who was moved from center midfield to stopper, a new position for her.

“She did outstanding marking in midfield and making sure to get those balls out of there so I didn’t even have to touch them,” Mentink said.

A strong wind at their backs picked up in the second half and provided more help. Braga’s goal kicks covered two-thirds of the field.

Garza said he tried a different style of play against the Tigers.

“We usually like to hold onto the ball and keep possession. We knew Howards was going to be physical, so with our lack of size we tried to play a little more quickly. It took our team some time to adjust,” he said.

But the Rockets adjusted, took an early lead and never let the Tigers score.

“When you have somebody like Brooke Braga in goal, she can always make the difference,” Garza said. “She’s one of the best goalkeepers I’ve ever seen at the high school level.”

The victory was sweeter since it came on senior night — Simonet, Braga, Bohacek, Mentink, Beaudry and Payton Navis were honored as a rainstorm rolled in — and  after the Rockets lost their only game of the season, 1-0, at Kewaskum (13-2) two days earlier on June 1 in heavy wind.

“Kewaskum was 100% the best team we’ve seen so far. For us to keep that at 1-0 says a lot about us and our team and our defense,” Garza said.

The players took it upon themselves to know what the loss meant.

“I didn’t even have to say it,” Garza said. “Our captains said it, ‘Yeah we needed this to shake us up and remind us that we can be beaten and we have things to work on.’”

“It was a reality check,” Braga said. “It was our first loss. We got it out of the way and were able to come strong for this one.”

Prom carries Rockets’ scoring load

At Ozaukee the following day in a different atmosphere — it was so hot and humid players got a break halfway through each half — the Rockets came out a little slower before netting five second-half goals, four from freshman forward Hailey Prom.

“You could definitely tell our girls were banged up from last night,” Garza said.

Bohacek had the Rockets’ other score. Beaudry, Mentink, Grace Gauger, Alexis Bahr and Lizzie Luebke each had an assist.

Garza pumped up his fatigued team at halftime.

“Even though it was 90 degrees, we had to push ourselves,” Prom said.

“We just got a lot of through balls behind and I was just able to run it through.”

The Warriors’ first-year coach Kaylie Kraus was happy with her team’s effort, especially in the scoreless first half.

“I was really impressed. Our defense was really good when they got into those scramble situations,” she said. “I think that Cedar Grove definitely underestimated us, and we definitely made them work for that win.”

She praised junior outside defender Brynn Schueller.

“This was the best game she ever played. I feel like the entire time she was just in the right spot, like the ball would just magically go to her,” Kraus said.

The Rockets played about 90% of the game on Ozaukee’s half of the field. Braga could have laid out to get a tan or, had she brought a slab of sidewalk, fried an egg on it and had a late breakfast.

Winning the Big East title outright

On Monday, the Rockets put away the solo conference title early against Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah. They scored twice in the game’s first three minutes and led 4-0 at halftime on their way to a 6-1 win.

Then, Garza rested his starters for the playoffs. Twenty-one players got into the game.

Bahr and Ashley Acevedo each scored twice, and Bohacek and Navis each had one goal. Navis and Luebke each had two assists, and Bahr and Jessica Sutryk each had one.

Garza credited Acevedo for her offensive impact.

“She continues to show it doesn’t matter where we play her, she’s going to step up,” Garza said.

On defense, Luebke shined.

“She’s just got a really nice range of passing — some of her through balls from deep have been just lethal this year,” Garza said.

Navis also provided a spark.

“She continues to show that she is the engine of our midfield and of this team — a player that when she has to can take over a game because of her willingness to do it all,” Garza said.

The Rockets earned a No. 1 seed in the tournament and host No. 8-seeded Campbellsport (0-13) at 7 p.m. Thursday. The winner plays the winner of No. 4-seeded Random Lake and No. 5-seeded University School of Milwaukee on Saturday.

The Rockets beat Random Lake, 4-1, in the season opener May 4 and beat USM, 10-1, on May 7.

Ozaukee (0-8) got a No. 7 seed and plays at St. Mary’s Springs (8-3-1) at Marian at 7 p.m. Thursday.

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