Written by Steve Ostermann
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 22:37
Grafton’s Block and Geiser, Port’s Bultman get 2nd-team honors in perenially tough league
When its comes to postseason honors, few things are tougher to crack than All-North Shore Conference recognition in girls’ soccer.
With a league loaded with all-state-caliber talent, any acknowledgement from coaches becomes a well-earned reward.
Even so, there is no shortage of local representatives on this year’s list of standouts, including three on the All-NSC second team.
Grafton midfielder Hailey Block and defender Monica Geiser were named to the squad along with Port Washington defender Laura Bultman.
Block, a freshman, was the offensive leader on a young Grafton team, contributing 16 goals and eight assists.
“Those are huge numbers for a freshman,” Grafton coach Don Arnold said.
“Hailey played a huge role for us in the midfield. Whenever she got the ball, she was a threat to score or set up her teammates with a through ball.
“She played well beyond her years.”
Block was one of only four freshmen named to the first or second team in the coaches’ balloting.
Geiser, a senior, steadied the Black Hawks’ back line on the way to NSC second-team honors for the second straight season.
She had only three goals and one assist but excelled at a blue-collar role that was invaluable in Grafton’s 12-8-2 season.
“Monica relished the role of being the person who controlled the back for us,” said Arnold, whose team was 2-4-1 in the conference.
“She is a very strong, tenacious athlete who is fantastic going after the ball in the air or making tackles.”
Bultman, a senior, also had a well-earned reputation for physical and mental toughness.
“Laura was our strength in the back,” Port coach Mike Bultman said of his daughter.
“She played every game even though she had to battle through some injuries. She has a big one-touch ability with the ball, and she isn’t afraid to go after the ball with her head.
“I’m very proud of her as a coach and dad.”
In a testament to the toughness of the North Shore, Port was 1-6 in league play but 6-8-5 overall. The latter mark was the Pirates’ best since 2011.
Six local players received honorable mention in the voting: Grafton’s Malaya Sperber, Abbi Gutknecht and Maddie Depke and Port’s Allison Lessila, Payton Hurley and Brooke Lund.
Sperber, a freshman forward, combined with Block to give the Hawks a potent one-two offensive punch. She had 10 goals and three assists.
“As a freshman, to impress coaches in the North Shore says something about how good she is,” Arnold said.
“Malaya is a relentless worker, a quick player who just got better and better as the year went on.”
Gutknecht, a sophomore defender, was one of the league’s best marking backs.
“She loves playing defense. She’s one of those players who relishes the chance to shut down the other team’s forwards,” Arnold said.
Depke, a junior midfielder, also caught the eyes of coaches with her high-energy play. She helped fuel the Hawks’ transition game and had three goals and one assist.
“Maddie stepped up big in her first year with our program,” Arnold said. “She’s very strong and plays huge in the air.”
Lessila, a senior goalkeeper, anchored the Pirates’ defense with aplomb. She had eight shutouts, averaged more than 13 saves per game and received all-conference recognition for the fourth straight year.
“Allison is a really solid keeper,” Bultman said. “To be honored four years in a row in what is easily the best goalkeeping conference in the state says a lot.”
Although she was smaller than most players, Hurley impressed Bultman with her tenacity as a sophomore midfielder.
“Payton has a lot of fire in her. She really controlled the middle for us,” he said.
“In many games, she was the best player on the field.”
Lund, a junior defender, gave the Pirates a versatile player who could contribute at both ends of the field. A team co-captain, she had two assists.
“Brooke works really well with other players, especially (midfielder) Alli Klotz,” Bultman said.
“She provided offense out of our defense.”
Image Information: Monica Geiser
Written by Steve Ostermann
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 22:29
Foiled rally in nightcap leaves Port baseball team with one win against Kiel
A late rally left the Port Washington baseball team tantalizingly close to scoring a doubleheader sweep last Saturday.
After pounding out a 16-9 win in the opener of a nonconference twin bill against Kiel, the host Pirates were edged, 4-3, in the second contest.
Port trailed, 4-0, in the nightcap before mounting a comeback that started with a two-run sixth inning. Both runs scored when a ball hit by Michael Murphy was misplayed for an error.
The rally continued in the bottom of the seventh, which began with Pat Knowski drawing a walk.
After Kale Knaub singled, Cody Sadler’s bunt hit loaded the bases. Matt Wozniak hit into a force out at the plate, but Knaub scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-3.
Zach Uselding then tried to bunt in a run, but when the ball was popped up, pitcher Trent Nickel made a diving catch and threw to first base for a game-ending double play.
“It was a tough break. We could have very easily won both games,” Port coach Ryan Finnerty said.
“But it was really encouraging to see us come back the way we did.”
The Pirates made things interesting despite managing only two hits off a pair of Kiel pitchers. Nick Walsh worked the first six innings for the win.
Sadler took the loss after pitching two innings in relief of starter Jake Huebner, who struck out two and walked seven in five innings.
Finnerty said he was particularly impressed with his team’s aggressive play In the first game, the Pirates overcame an early 2-0 deficit with a seven-run second inning and tacked on three runs in each of the third, fourth and sixth innings.
Although Port finished with only five hits, it benefited from the wildness of three Kiel pitchers, who combined to issue 12 walks and hit six batters. The Pirates also stole seven bases.
“We put the take sign on a lot when we were at the plate, and we stayed aggressive on the bases,” Finnerty said.
Steady defense also aided Port, which didn’t commit an error.
Knowski pitched a complete game for the win. He allowed nine runs but scattered 12 hits, struck out four and walked two.
Jack Kinzer went 2-for-3 with a double and drove in three runs to lead the Pirates.
The doubleheader left Port with a 4-14 season record that included a 1-2 mark in three North Shore Conference games last week.
“We’re playing much better,” Finnerty said. “Our confidence is back, and we’re making plays now, which wasn’t happening earlier.
“We’re playing tremendous defense, and our pitching and hitting are coming around.”
West Bend East 6, Port 3
The Pirates fell short in a June 16 conference game that didn’t have any scoring until the fifth inning.
Port scored three late runs but was outhit, 10-6.
Wozniak was 2-for-4 for Port with an RBI.
Zach Uselding took the loss. He pitched six innings, walking three and striking out none.
The Pirates fell to 1-10 in NSC play. East improved to 2-8.
Grafton 4, Port 3
Grady Bauer’s bases-loaded single in the seventh inning gave the host Black Hawks a comeback win in a North Shore game June 14.
After the teams battled to a 3-3 tie through four innings, both sides failed to score until the final frame.
Noah Chopp singled to start the rally, and Connor Neeck and Evan Agnew drew walks to load the bases. Port then brought in an outfielder for a five-man infield, but Bauer foiled the strategy with a two-strike hit.
“It took a lot of resilience to win that game. Port played well and made us work for it,” Grafton coach Brian Durst said.
Bauer, Chopp and Ben Mason each had two hits for the Hawks. Knaub was 3-for-4 to lead Port, and Knowski had two hits.
Drew Brandenburg won a complete-game pitching duel with Josh Rintelman.
Brandenburg gave up eight hits, struck out six and walked none. Rintelman allowed 10 hits, walked five and struck out one.
Port opened last week with a 4-1 home win over Nicolet.
This week, the Pirates were scheduled to continue NSC play with games against West Bend West on Monday and Kewaskum on Tuesday and play road games against Whitefish Bay at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Wauwatosa West at 5 p.m. Friday.
Port will then host 5:30 p.m. league games June 27 against Homestead and June 28 against Cedarburg.
Image Information: ZACH USELDING deliverd a pitch during the Port Washington baseball team’s game against West Bend East. Photo by Sam Arendt