The regional final soccer match pitting New Berlin Eisenhower against Mukwonago was anything but a defensive or one-sided match as the fourth-seeded Lions defeated the fifth-seeded Indians 3-2, on Saturday at Waukesha West.
Ike tallied its first goal right away as senior captain Rachel Menges put one in the back of the net off of an assist from sophomore Nicole Baumann.
Menges said the quick goal meant a lot for the team's momentum.
"Usually when we get the first goal in, everyone is very excited about it," Menges said. "It just picks it up a few notches for us. That pretty much got our team really intense."
But the 1-0 lead was short-lived as Mukwonago junior Clare Aoys scored just 30 seconds later off of an assist from junior captain Caitlyn Persinger.
Lions fight back
The back-and-forth battle continued when junior Jackie Vanderkolk took on three defenders after an assist from Menges to put the Lions back on top 2-1.
Vanderkolk said scoring a goal in a tough game like this is a testament to the entire team's hard work.
"We all work together … it's like the trophy, I guess you could say, of how hard we worked to get the ball up the field," Vanderkolk said. "It's just the finishing touch to all of our team's hard work."
Mukwonago struck back five minutes later as freshman Chay Magolan headed one in off a beautiful corner kick by sophomore Jenny Tuttle.
After a teeter-totter first half, Ike controlled most of the second half and took the lead for good in the 60th minute with a goal by junior Stephanie Bruno off of an assist from Vanderkolk.
Setting the tempo early
Lions head coach Jim Keller said scoring the first goal really set the tempo for the rest of the game.
"The emotions were high at the beginning of the game," Keller said. "Part of what we talked about was if we could get that initial (goal) in, that really sets the pace of the game, which it did. Unfortunately, they got one in right after that."
Keller said his team has to make sure they never let their guard down on defense and believes they need to be a little bit tighter in the backfield before their sectional semifinal matchup against Waukesha West on Thursday at West.
"Waukesha West is going to have a great attack," Keller said. "We're going to have to be really dialed in for all 80 minutes in the backfield."
Keller said his team played inspired and got to the ball quickly against the Indians.
Scoring three goals meant the offense was doing something right. Keller said working the ball in the attacking one-third of the field was the key to the Lions' success instead of taking the lengthier shots.
A tough opponent
Mukwonago head coach John Spielmann said getting down a goal in the first minute of the game was nothing unusual for his team this year as they had battled back several times throughout the season.
"We've had several games where we were down one or two and we've always come back," Spielmann said. "Unfortunately, that's one of our downfalls. We have a bad half and then we come back and have a good half and it's been that way all season.
"Today, we ran into an opponent that played very aggressive and their speed and (physicality) challenged us more than any team we have played so far so give them a lot of kudos on that."
Ike is now 15-6-2 and Mukwonago finished 11-8-3.
June 2, at Eisenhower
New Berlin Eisenhower 6, Watertown 2 - The Lions took a 3-1 half-time lead and coasted to the win in the regional semifinals. Jenny Wieland had two goals, while Rachel Menges had a goal and two assists and Andrea Ganzke had a goal and an assist. Other goals were scored by Stephanie Bruno, Jackie Vanderkolk and Nicole Bauman and Alex Klonis had assists.
Season Finale, May 31
Brookfield Central 4, New Berlin Eisenhower 2 - The Lancers beat the Lions, 4-2, on May 31 at Ike to end the regular season. The Lancers led, 2-1, at halftime, then Central and Ike exchanged goals in the first three minutes of the second half before Central scored at the 54-minute mark to put the game away. Jackie Vanderkolk assists on goals by Allysa Farrell and Rachel Menges.
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