Second-half rally not enough as Grafton soccer team bows to Mount Horeb in state shootout that ends WIAA tournament run
The Grafton boys’ shot at a WIAA state soccer title was gone with the wind.
After surrendering a first-half goal in the face of a persistent breeze, the Black Hawks mustered the equalizer in the second period against Mount Horeb in a Division 3 semifinal at Uihlein Park in Milwaukee on Nov. 5.
But the rally wasn’t enough for Grafton, which saw its season end with a 4-2 loss in a shootout.
“It was a tough way to lose. We had the wind against us in the first half, but we felt confident in the second half,” Hawks coach Don Arnold said.
“We put a lot of pressure on them and got a goal, but we just couldn’t get another one.”
Grafton entered the tournament as an on-paper favorite, sporting a 20-3-1 record and a high-powered offense that averaged nearly five goals per match.
However, Mount Horeb (15-6-3) showed its mettle by taking charge in the first period. With a 20-mph wind at their backs, the Vikings cashed in quickly.
In the sixth minute, Kyler Donovan sent a corner kick across the mouth of the goal, and Ben Stephens headed the ball inside the near post to put Mount Horeb on top.
Despite being outshot, 7-3, in the first period, Grafton steadied its defense and stayed within 1-0 at halftime. That could have set the stage for a decisive comeback.
After winning a pregame coin toss, the Hawks chose to play against the wind in the first half.
“We thought if we stayed within 1-0, we would be in good shape,” Arnold explained.
True to form, Grafton controlled the ball throughout the second period and posted a 10-4 shot advantage. After several near-misses, including a shot by midfielder Jake Demerath that struck the crossbar in the 71st minute, the Hawks’ pressure paid off.
At 76:06, Demerath tallied off a rebound, sliding a shot past goalkeeper Max Handrich to knot the score.
“We were pretty confident,” Demerath said of the second half. “We were moving the ball around and had plenty of shots.”