More scoring, more winning, more grinning

Rockets’ soccer program turned a corner this year
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

As Halloween grows closer, the Cedar Grove-Belgium High School boys’ soccer players need to pick out completely different costumes than whatever they wore last year.

This team is the polar opposite of the 2021 version.

All season long the Rockets have been exorcising demons that have dogged the program for years, and on Oct. 4 came a highlight in dramatic fashion.

The Rockets beat Random Lake at home, 3-2. It was their first Big East Conference win since 2019 and the first for second-year coach Kyle Schultz.

Senior midfielder and co-captain Logan Navis tallied two goals in the game, his second the game-winner with about 30 seconds left, Schultz said.

“It was one of our most triumphant wins,” he said.

The score came after a long throw-in from co-captain Parker Knight. The ball skimmed the foot of Rocket leading scorer Caleb Heinen and fell between two defenders to Navis, who “hit it a little harder than I would have liked,” Schultz said.

But the ball found the back of the net, and the Rockets went on to win.

It solidified the fact that the program is no longer the doormat of the Big East. Once fighting for one win per season — conference or otherwise — the Rockets have elevated to a new level.

“If there was a page turned, that’s gotta be it,” Schultz said.

The signs were there earlier in the season. A 1-0 loss to state-ranked Oostburg on a penalty kick was a moral victory after years of blowouts. A 4-2 loss to Kohler was the best the Rockets played against the Blue Bombers in recent memory.

On Monday, the Rockets picked up their eighth win of the season, 5-0 over a noticeably weaker team in University Lake School/Trinity Academy.

That’s the most wins in a season since 2018 and tied for the most since at least 2010.

The Rockets are averaging 3.11 goals per game, which is more than double every Rockets’ team since at least 2010, and in some cases five times more and beyond. Last year, the team averaged .23 goals per game.

“Thankfully we were able to get a lot more players this year, a lot better players. Because of that we were able to build up a massive comeback, one that’s been in the making for 12 years,” senior midfielder and co-captain Brendan Lambrecht said.

“I’m really proud of my team and my new goalkeeper (freshman Landon Altheimer).”

“Six seniors — that’s the most we’ve had in a while,” Knight said. “We started when we were freshmen. We just built it up. We just kept getting solid classes coming up. The youth program is building up.”

“We picked up some better guys from other classes, built it up,” Navis said.

Senior forward David Martinez has noticed a difference in purpose.

“The passes we’ve been doing — last season we just kicked the ball around for no reason. We play as a team now,” he said.

Senior midfielder Jesse Burg said the strong senior class and underclassmen who play club ball in the offseason are boosting the quality of play, and he has noticed a change in mentality.

“A lot of seasons we got really discouraged around this time and started giving up in games but this year we’re going good and it makes soccer a lot more fun,” he said.

The seniors, including forward Braeden Pfaff, will be missed, but the team’s leading scorer is a sophomore, Caleb Heinen.

“I think that our team as a whole just really improved over this year. We just learned how to play together,” he said.

“We didn’t lose a lot of seniors last year. Having the same team before and just playing with each other more, that chemistry helped a lot.”

That also makes for more smiles.

“It’s way more fun because you can all celebrate together. Bus rides and all that stuff have been really fun,” Heinen said.

Monday’s game was scoreless at the half, but the Rockets hit so many posts on scoring chances that Schultz joked, “We’ve gotta get new crossbars.”

Navis and Heinen each scored twice, and Altheimer scored once playing in the field. Knight had three assists, and Thomas Wiesner had one. The scored could have easily been 15-0, but the Rockets narrowly missed on many opportunities against an overmatched opponent.

“I think last year we were essentially what that team (University Lake/Trinity Academy) was to us tonight,” Schultz said. “So it’s definitely nice to turn that page and keep building.”

Against the Rams, Navis scored twice and Martinez once. Heinen had two assists and Knight had one.

The Rockets use Knight’s high and far-traveling throw-ins as unique weapons.

“It’s kinda just because of baseball. I’ve got the arm for it,” the all-conference pitcher said. “I just launch it as far as I can, try to get corners out of throw-ins. Been doing it since sophomore year.”

That’s not an exaggeration. Two long throw-ins helped the Rockets score twice and win a playoff game last season.

“It’s pretty crazy. You can hear the other teams yell, ‘Hey, that’s a corner,’” Schultz said.

The Rockets, 8-9-1 overall and 1-4 in the Big East, host Stockbridge on Thursday, Oct. 13, to close the regular season with a chance to finish .500.

They got a 9 seed in the Division 4 playoffs and play at No. 8 seed the Prairie School on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Category:

Feedback:

Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494
 

CONNECT


User login