Waterford wins in thrilling shootout

Waterford scored its lone goal in regulation as the Grove goalie fell down. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk, Tim Wester and Chris Bennett

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

On paper, state-ranked Union Grove had all of the ingredients for a breezy, blowout home victory in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal Oct. 19.

Playing rival Waterford, which only had five wins all season and was crushed by the Broncos in the regular season, it should’ve been a lopsided Grove victory.

Right?

Wrong.

Waterford, who won just five games this season, broke a 1-1 tie with a 4-2 shootout victory at Union Grove (15-4-3).

“The Union Grove game was our best effort of the year,” Waterford coach Dan Prailes said. “The boys played together as a team, Mike Hyland made some nice saves, and Chris Estrada tied the score with a goal in second half.”

Waterford’s season came to an end with a 2-0 loss Oct. 21 in the regional final at New Berlin Eisenhower.

The heartbreaking loss ended arguably the best season in Grove program history. The Broncos, who were ranked 10th in Division 2, posted a school-record 15 wins and had the best finish in the Southern Lakes Conference (third) in program history.

“To say it was shocking would be the understatement of my coaching career,” said Grove coach Sean Jung, whose team defeated the Wolverines, 7-1, earlier in the regular season. “I don’t know if I’ll ever entirely get over it.”

The Broncos certainly looked to be the better team early in the contest as Cole Anderson took a pass from Christian Lentz and blasted a shot in the far top corner of the net for a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.

Union Grove continued to be the aggressor in the game and appeared to take a two-goal advantage late in the first half, but a controversial offside penalty disallowed the goal.

“We eventually scored a second goal in the 33rd minute, but it appeared it was incorrectly ruled that we were offsides,” Jung said. “It was a tough call.”

The Broncos’ missteps continued into the second half with senior Kane Talley and Anderson both missing empty net chances from close.

“We continued to get chances as Kane had two empty net chances from close that he just missed, as did Cole,” Jung said. “We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”

The offensive mistakes finally caught up to the Broncos in the 71st minute when a pass errantly deflected off Waterford player Chris Estrada’s knee into the Union Grove goal to tie the game at 1.

“A lazy ball over the top took a bad deflection and found its way into our goal,” Jung said. “After that we lost all composure and stopped playing soccer, and the game fell apart and we were rattled.”

The rattled Broncos didn’t have a response after that, and limped into overtime trying to reset their emotions. Both teams then battled through two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods, forcing a shootout. From there, the Wolverines converted on four straight goals in the shootout to win 4-2.

“The two overtime sessions were equally as uneventful,” Jung said. “Then we missed our first and fourth penalties and they made their first four and won the game.”

Broken and defeated, the Broncos quietly walked off their home field as Waterford celebrated the improbable victory.

“This loss hurt worse than any that I can remember,” Jung said. “I feel like every ounce of life I had in my body was sucked out of me. It’s taking time to get it back and I’m still losing sleep at night because of the match, which was a week ago.”

Unfortunately for Jung and the Broncos, their shot at redemption won’t be until next season, which leaves them to wonder what could have been after a record-breaking regular season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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