Tuesday, June 22, 2010


from today's Waukesha Freeman --


Crusaders win school’s seventh state title

By Mark Hutchinson Freeman Staff

MILWAUKEE – The Catholic Memorial High School girls soccer team dedicated itself to winning a state championship this season. And before the Crusaders went out and earned the seventh one in their program’s history with a 1-0 victory over Grafton in Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 state title match at Uihlein Soccer Park, they dedicated it to members of their extended family.
“We decided to dedicate the championship game to one person and one group of people,” CMH coach John Burke said. “I asked the girls to play hard for my 3-year-old daughter, Molly, who has leukemia and is undergoing chemotherapy, and for all the TOPSoccer kids – special-needs kids – that our girls coach, for all the courage they show. “It was wonderful to have Molly and the TOPS kids here today supporting our girls.” The Crusaders gave them all a thrill.

Junior defender Val Gonyo broke up a scoreless stalemate when she kicked a line drive just off the outstretched fingertips of Grafton sophomore keeper Alisa Viste and into the goal at 55:23. The CMH defense, which yielded just 10 goals all season, did the rest, enabling junior goalie Monica Gonyo to play all 80 minutes without having to make a save.

The victory earned the Crusaders, who were making their fifth straight appearance in a state final, their fourth WIAA state championship and an unparalleled total of seven state titles dating back through their years in WISAA. They finished their 2010 campaign at 23-2-2 while Grafton wound up 19-6-1.

“One of the things that I think was special about this team was we went 20-0-2 in Wisconsin this season,” Burke said. “We played one of the toughest schedules any team could play. “It’s a remarkable thing that these kids have accomplished. We’ve played in five consecutive state title games. We’ve won three of them. We have seven state championships to our credit, which is the most in the history of Wisconsin. And we’re this little school from a blue-collar neighborhood in Waukesha.”

Val Gonyo said her coach’s pregame talk gave the Crusaders extra incentive. “Before the game, Coach Burke talked about Molly,” Gonyo said. “We’re all praying for her, hoping she’ll pull through and hoping for the best for her. “We were definitely playing this game for her and the TOPS kids, too. Some of them were here today and we were definitely playing for them.”

Gonyo didn’t let opportunity’s knock go unanswered when it came along. “We’ve been trying to combine with our forwards and midfielders pretty much ever since I’ve been playing defense,” Gonyo said. “I saw the ball laid back to me and I just went for it and ripped it.” The junior defender was pleased that the Crusaders were able to send their seniors – Kelsie Golabowski, Kara Novotny, Amy Bennett, Alicia Ostromecki, Ellen Chamberlin, Sophia Rodriguez and Natalie Lechner – off as state champions. Several of them were members of CMH’s title-winning team as freshmen, but had to settle for state runner-up medals in each of the past two seasons.

“Our seniors were great this year,” Gonyo said. “We definitely wanted to win it for them, especially because the past two years haven’t been that great for us. “We definitely went into this game playing our hardest and working our hardest. We wanted to do it for them and also the whole team.”

Bennett, a midfielder who started as a freshman for CMH’s state champions in 2007, wore one of the most satisfied smiles among the Crusaders after they accepted their championship trophy Saturday. “This feels great,” Bennett said. “I’m just ecstatic right now, considering our seniors waited three years since we won it when we were freshmen. When we lost in the championship match as sophomores, it hurt and we were shocked, but we were like, ‘OK, we can do it next year.’ Then when it didn’t happen the next year, I was really down. It was terrible. “Now that our seniors get to celebrate in our last year here, it’s just amazing. It was worth the wait.”

Burke was impressed with the Crusaders’ perseverance. “State title games are very difficult to win,” the coach said. “You saw how many chances we created, but we just couldn’t seem to get a ball to bounce our way. We were within the box – the 6-yard box, not just the penalty area – for most of the game. We kept telling the kids, ‘Be patient, be patient, defend, defend, defend until we get something.’

“What’s happened sometimes to us in the past is we’ll control a game and then we’ll push so many people forward that we get transitioned on and then all of a sudden we’re down 1-0. So we had to stay very disciplined and be patient. When the goal finally came, we were very confident that we could hold onto the lead.”

E-mail: mhutchinson@conleynet.com

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