Early card makes it hard on Grafton soccer

Black Hawks lose playoff game at KML; Port, Cedar Grove-Belgium also get bounced in first round
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The soccer season came to an odd and heartbreaking close for the Grafton High School boys’ team last Thursday.

The No. 9-seeded Black Hawks lost at No. 8 Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 1-0, playing 74 minutes of the game one man down in a Division 3 regional semifinal.

Senior keeper and co-captain Charlie Rose received a red card at the 6-minute, 1-second mark.

Rose came out to stop a one-on-one scoring chance and ended up colliding with a Charger. Officials discussed the play before issuing a red card, meaning the Hawks were down to 10 players for the rest of the game.

Junior Griffin Koehler came in and held up well.

Senior co-captain Lukas Hensel, who runs the center back line, stopped a few Charger chances all by himself.

“They sent them at us a lot. We really tried. I’m really proud of the effort we all put in. You can’t stop them all, and I’m proud of what we did stop,” Hensel said.

“We played down a man for most of the game. We still played phenomenal. It really shows how much effort we put in. Charlie put it out there. He played his all. I’m glad Griffin stepped up to take over. I’m proud of both of them.”

Grafton had a few scoring chances in the first half. In the seventh minute, a corner kick went off the Charger keeper’s hands but he was able to corral the ball. A Hawks’ shot sailed over the goal in the 23rd minute, and they got off two shots and had a corner kick in the next few minutes.

After a scoreless first half, KML broke through in the 53rd minute. Ryan Weed scored on a ball from Charlie Birrittierri, firing a shot over Koehler’s head on the right side of the goal after he came out just a little bit to stop the threat.

Grafton tried to rally, but the Chargers’ defense held on.

“Unfortunate,” Grafton coach Jason Rodgers said. “I thought we had the better chances in the first half. It’s unfortunate the game got tilted on its head so early. That’s soccer, I suppose.”

Rodgers didn’t comment on the red card, but said he was glad it wasn’t professional soccer where he’d get fined for discussing it.

“I just think the whole team played fantastic. It’s tough to go down to 10 men six minutes into the game. They held up for the better part of 60 minutes,” he said. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot, otherwise we could have maybe taken this a little bit longer and snuck away with a win.”

He praised Hensel’s play since Rodgers joined the Hawks’ program three years ago,

“He’s been a phenomenal player for the three years I’ve been with him. He was tasked with a new role this year and he keeps finding a way to impress me every day,” Rodgers said.

Hensel said he made lifetime memories with the team.

“I’ve really grown as a player throughout,” he said after sharing tearful hugs with his teammates. “Just the camaraderie I’ve had with all the players will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

Grafton finished 6-9 overall, 4-5 in the North Shore Conference and in sixth place of 10 teams.

“We had our ups and downs. All in all it was good. We lost a couple of key players last year and some stepped into new roles in a new formation, and they played fantastic,” Rodgers said.

KML, 11-5-4, lost to New Berlin Eisenhower, 3-0, in the regional final.

Port loses first-round game

No. 11-seeded Port lost at No. 6-seeded Wauwatosa West, 3-0, on Oct. 18, in a Division 2 regional game.

“We had a few chances. We just couldn’t put them away,” coach Tyler Schultz said.

The Trojans netted their first goal in the first two minutes, but Port held them scoreless for the rest of the first half. Schultz praised senior keeper Spencer Struckman.

“They kept hitting us and we just kept pushing them back. He was there supporting it all,” he said.

It was the final game for Struckman, Luke Markiewicz, Lucas Poull, Porter Bostwick, Jayden Schwengel, Conner Cowen, Max Mitchell, Ryan Marquette and Erik Krueger.

“We had our ups and downs. They powered through; they kept the team rolling,” Schultz said of his seniors. “If the team would get their heads down, they would pick them up and look to the next game.”

Port finished 5-16-1 overall, 1-8 in the NSC.

CG-Belgium ends standout season

No. 9-seeded Cedar Grove-Belgium lost, 4-1, at No. 8-seeded the Prairie School last Thursday in a Division 4 first-round playoff game.

Logan Navis scored in the second half on an assist from Parker Knight.

The Rockets finished 9-10-1 overall, their best season since at least 2010.

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