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Soccer Cardinals hit road bump


September 28, 2017

Middleton’s boys soccer team has hit the meat of its schedule. And the Cardinals have encountered a few bumps in the road.

Middleton and Verona played to a scoreless tie last Tuesday in a game between Big Eight Conference powers.

Mount Horeb then edged the Cardinals, 3-2, last Saturday in a non-conference showdown between two of the state’s elite programs.

Middleton is now 6-2-4 overall and in third place in the Big Eight at 3-0-2.

The Cardinals and Verona (9-2-1, 4-0-1) played a terrific game in which no one could find the net. Middleton dominated possession in the second half, but couldn’t convert.

Middleton defenders, Brendan Steele, Noah Pollard and Carlos Harried all shined, while keeper Ben Scher played well in goal to preserve the shutout.

“Very good team,” Middleton coach Ben Kollasch said of the Wildcats. “This Verona team may not have been more talented than the West team we beat the previous week, but they certainly played a more organized style of soccer.

“We solved one riddle in the second half by dominating the possession and the momentum, but we never solved the riddle of getting the ball in the net to take the lead.”

Middleton then fell to a Mount Horeb side that has been to six of the last seven state tournaments and captured two state titles since 2011.

“Mount Horeb is a good team, but certainly not as good as some of the teams we have already beaten,” Kollasch said. “Like Verona, they played very well as a team to get the most out of the skills they have.”

The only goal of the first half came on beautiful Mount Horeb counter attack in which Gabriel Guenther played Connor Dyjach in for a breakaway goal. 

Middleton evened the score with a rebound goal by Andrew Lund in the 50th minute.

Mount Horeb responded quickly with Connor Long, in his first game since August due to injury, finishing a low pass across the face of goal from Cameron Eyre in the 52nd minute. Eyre scored again just 33 seconds later on a Jacob Culberson pass that led him to the goal.

“We were able to consistently find space on the flanks of Middleton’s back three,” Mount Horeb coach Mark Newman said. “While we did not score again, we made it difficult for Middleton to pin us back and throw all their numbers forward.”

The Cardinals pulled within 3-2 on a free kick by Greg Pauly in the 72nd minute. But Mount Horeb held on and notched a big win against a state power.

“Mount Horeb took advantage of some lucky bounces, an own goal from us and a goal scored off a crazy deflection that went right to their forward running to goal,” Kollasch said. “But our bad luck was very much our own creation. We forgot all the little things that create good luck and we fell back to bad habits that give the advantage to the opponents.”

• On deck: Middleton was at Janesville Parker Tuesday. The Cardinals then play three exhibition games in Iowa this weekend against top level regional teams.

“This is a great time to take stock of our goals for the season and reinvigorate our drive to win,” Kollasch said. “This is a team that can get by on their desire “not to lose,” but we have yet to see what this team can do when they decide to win with a killer instinct.

“After a week or two of relative mediocrity, we are still in the hunt for the top few spots in the conference standings. This team still has a high ceiling of performance level, but they will need to find a higher gear if they want to get back to the state tournament.”

Sept. 23

MOUNT HOREB 3, Middleton 2

Middleton .............................. 0 2 — 2

Mount Horeb ......................... 1 2 — 3

First half: MH – Dyjach (G. Guenther), 32:40.

Second half: Mid – Lund, 49:40; MH – Long (Eyre), 51:31; Eyre (Culberson), 52:07; Mid – Pauly, 71:52.

Saves: Mid (Scher) 4; MH (Coon) 4.


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