Rally over Chargers earns Falls kickers a WIAA regional title
Shoot for first state berth this week
Menomonee Falls - Anything worthwhile has to have a little drama attached to it.
And that was indeed the case on Oct. 11 when in the 73rd minute of a tie WIAA regional boys soccer final with archrival Sussex Hamilton, Menomonee Falls reserve defender Trevor Estock channeled all his energy and flicked a deft pass to reserve forward Alex Russo on the right side. Russo then faked the goalie and pushed it easily past him from 10 yards out for the winning goal in a 3-2 decision.
Russo's goal completed a heady second half comeback after the Indians had fallen behind, 2-0, in the first 40 minutes.
"In the first half, we were just off," Indians coach Scott Stein said. "The guys were like '2-0? Really?' but we never really believed that we were ever really out of it."
And because of that, and along with the 5-1 triumph over Milwaukee Riverside in the Oct. 9 regional semifinal, the second-seeded Indians (18-4-3 overall) are the highest remaining seed left in the WIAA Brookfield Central sectional.
They host Greater Metro Conference rival and third-seeded Brookfield East (13-7-2) in a WIAA sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday. Falls beat East, 1-0, in an early season game that the Indians won on an own goal by the Spartans.
But East has looked good of late, dispatching North Shore champion Germantown, 4-1, in its regional final on Oct. 11.
The other sectional semifinal features fourth-seeded Whitefish Bay (13-5-2) and eighth-seeded Cedarburg (11-5-2), which upset the sectional's top seed, Arrowhead, by a 2-1 count, in a regional final. The sectional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Central with the WIAA state tournament slated for Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee on Oct. 25-27.
Falls has made it to sectional finals, the doorstep of state, three times, including a loss to East last season. Stein won't say if he believes this is the team that will give the Indians their first-ever state tournament berth, but he has been proud of this group.
"Last year we had such high expectations," he said, "but this side has always given such great team effort. We just weren't sure what we had this year as only five guys who really played a lot returned, but they've showed me a lot."
As they did against Hamilton.
The Chargers scored on what Stein called "two absolute bombs" within the first 10 minutes of the game.
"We knew that they played pretty direct but they came right at us," he said. "We were rattled a little after that until the second half."
The Indians finally got back into the game with a goal 11 minutes into the second half from Nick Gonzales, with an assist to Russo.
The tying goal came 12 minutes later from Alex Eastman with help from Jamie Fox.
That score set up Estock and Russo's late-game dramatics.
But it wasn't over after that. After Falls had taken the lead, the Chargers understandably pushed up and earned a couple of free kicks. One of them came with less than four minutes to go, and goalie Brendan Paule had to make a leaping save to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Stein was very pleased with the rally and noted that Collin Dowling and Connor Young came off the bench to really provide some spark to the attack.
He gave a lot of credit to the quad-captains Gonzales, Paule, Jake Brust and Owen Thompson for keeping the team together especially after it became known that injured starters Joe Burgoyne and Tommy Wolf would not be available due to injuries. Even Gonzales had to leave the game late with an injury.
"But we were deep enough to overcome all that," Stein said. "It was a great night with a great crowd and we just had guys take charge when we needed them to."
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