Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Crusaders’ soccer crown caps a year of overcoming adversity

from today's Waukesha Freeman --

Crusaders’ soccer crown caps a year of overcoming adversity
By Mark Hutchinson Freeman Staff

MILWAUKEE – The Catholic Memorial High School boys soccer team had two significant streaks snapped Saturday. The Crusaders rode into their fourth consecutive WIAA Division 2 state championship match at Uihlein Soccer Park having shut out their last 10 opponents, outscoring them 26-0 dating back to a Sept. 24 match against Menomonee Falls.

Their other streak consisted of three straight losses in WIAA state finals. The most recent of those was a 1-0 double-overtime heartbreaker against Fox Valley Lutheran in 2009. The shutout streak came to an end at the 48-minute, 52-second mark of the teams’ Saturday rematch when Fox Valley Lutheran senior midfielder Paul Stuebs took a pass from junior midfielder Teffie Joyce on the left wing, drove in and scored to stake the Foxes to a 1-0 lead.

Nearly 48 minutes later, though, streak No. 1 was little more than a distant memory for the Crusaders. They celebrated the end of streak No. 2 following a thrilling 3-2 double-overtime victory that earned them their first WIAA state championship. “I can’t say enough about our kids,” CMH coach John Bisswurm said. “They just never give up. They just keep fighting. We’ve been through a lot of adversity this year. My teams have never suffered as many injuries in my 31 years of coaching as our team did this year. “But these guys just kept coming and coming and coming and never gave up. They persevered. I’m just totally amazed at what they’ve done.” Losing the shutout streak but winning the state title was a good trade-of.

“It’s totally worth it,” senior defender James Masterson said. “The fourth time was definitely the charm. “We worked so hard today. We went down, we came back, we just kept fighting so hard. The double-overtime goal was just the perfect ending to like a miracle season, really, with all the injuries we had.” The championship combatants were a study in contrast. Anchored by its defense, CMH came in with its shutout streak and had made its season total of 50 goals go a long way. FVL, meanwhile, had accumulated 147 goals. One player – senior forward Trent Allison – had scored 35 of them.

Saturday’s first half played out much like the teams’ state championship match of 2009, in which neither team scored until the Foxes tallied the winning goal in the 97th minute. At 72:12, CMH junior midfielder Patrick McNulty sent home a redirected shot that eluded senior goalie BJ Kiser when he lost his balance trying to move to his left. Just 1:12 later, CMH junior forward Aaron Horvat gathered in a corner kick and quickly passed to freshman forward Mitchell Krismer, who headed the ball into the net to give the Crusaders a 2-1 edge. The Foxes made several aggressive attacks on goal during the remaining 6:36 of regulation, the last of which led to a wild scramble just in front of the goal mouth. FVL senior forward Pang Chun managed to fire a shot out of the crowd and into the goal with six seconds to play, forcing overtime.

The most serious scoring threat of the first overtime was snuffed out by CMH sophomore goalie Ryan Zingsheim with a diving stop at 85:15. Zingsheim made another diving save in the second OT before Horvat got the ball on the right wing and drove oneon-one against the goalie. Horvat fired a quick pass that the goalie deflected to CMH junior forward Ryan Allen, who drove the ball into the goal to end the teams’ second title-match marathon in as many seasons. Horvat, who collected a team-leading 18 goals this season, said an assist was as good as a goal. “At first when the goalie came up, I thought, ‘Oh, no,’ but when I saw Allen coming to my left, I was like, ‘Oh, yes!’ As I watched his shot, as soon as I saw the goalie miss it, I knew it was going in, and I thought, ‘It’s about time.’”

Allen said he saw Horvat coming in and ran up behind him. “The goalie got it, the ball bounced right to me and I just had to tap it in,” Allen said. A switch in formations helped the Crusaders produce three goals after they went scoreless for the first 72:11. “We knew at that time we had to push three forwards on top,” Bisswurm said. “Thank God it worked.”

E-mail: mhutchinson@conleynet.com

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