Grafton soccer team blanks two more foes on way to sectional level
When the Grafton Black Hawks take the field for a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal soccer game this Thursday in Pewaukee, they will have no shortage of confidence.
All the Hawks have done in winning their last 10 games is outscore their opponents, 58-2. It’s an eye-opening streak with eight shutouts, including a pair in home regional play last week.
In a regional final Oct. 11, Grafton blanked Milwaukee Lutheran, 4-0. That win came after the Hawks trounced Milwaukee Messmer, 11-0, in an Oct. 9 semifinal game called after one half.
“We got on this run when our players started to believe in themselves,” said Hawks coach Don Arnold, whose fourth-seeded team will take a 15-6-1 record into its match against top-seeded Pewaukee (16-2-3).
“We have confidence that we can play with anybody. Our team faced some adversity and disappointment early in the season, but we put all that behind us.”
Against Lutheran, Grafton grabbed a quick 2-0 lead and put the clamps on forward Michael DaSilva, the Red Knights’ top offensive threat.
“Our focus was to minimize the touches that DaSilva got, and we did that,” said Arnold, who singled out defenders Zach Greenwood and Alex Eidman for their strong play.
The Hawks — who defeated Lutheran, 2-0, in North Shore Conference play Sept. 25 — wasted no time finding the net themselves.
Aaron Hodges scored with an assist from Jake Demerath just two minutes into the game. At four minutes, Willie McElligott’s unassisted goal made it 2-0.
Hodges set up a goal by Alex Lorbecki in the 18th minute, allowing Grafton to take a 3-0 lead into the halftime.
At 74 minutes, Hodges capped the scoring with an assist from McElligott.
“It was great to get those early goals,” Arnold said. “Against a team like Lutheran, it would have been tough if we let them get the lead and had to play from behind.”
Rain, wind and chilly temperatures didn’t keep the Hawks from pummeling Messmer.
“Our focus was to get out there and put them away as quickly as possible,” Arnold said.
Grafton did all its scoring in the first 39 minutes. With inclement weather raging, officials talked to coaches and decided to call the game.
Hodges led the offensive assault with three goals. McElligott, Nick Bocanegra and Alex Lorbecki each had two goals, and Wolfgang Pilarski and Jake Kellett each had one.
Emmett Schaut, Demerath and McElligott each contributed two assists, and Kellett, Bocanegra, Hodges, Pilarski and Lorbecki had one apiece.
Tough regional road test next
The Hawks expect one of their toughest challenges of the season Thursday, when they travel to Pewaukee for a 6:30 p.m. match.
The host Pirates, who finished second to Pius in the Woodland Conference with a 9-1-1 record, are also coming off two shutout wins in their regional.
“They’re a very solid team all-around,” Arnold said. “We’re going to have to work hard and play well to beat them.”
The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to the sectional final at 2 p.m. Saturday in Whitewater against the winner of a game between Whitewater and Shorewood.
Image Information: NICK BOCANEGRA outraced a Milwaukee Lutheran player to the ball during Grafton’s 4-0 win in a WIAA Division 2 regional title game. Photo by Sam Arendt