Tremper soccer ends Milton's season
But the disappointment could only go so far for Milton High's boys soccer team.
The Red Hawks didn't blow a golden opportunity, they didn't squander a late lead, and they certainly didn't fail to come through against an inferior opponent.
In all regards, Milton's 4-1 loss to Kenosha Tremper in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal at Kenosha's Ameche Field here Thursday was simply a better team imposing its will.
"We gave it our best shot, but Tremper by far is the better team," said Milton coach Ryan Wagner, who guided the Red Hawks to the state tournament in 2008. "Plain and simple.
"With Tremper and (Kenosha) Bradford, Elkhorn, those are the top three teams (in the sectional), without a doubt. I think everyone else is a step behind."
Top-seeded Tremper (21-2-1) moves on to face second-seeded Elkhorn in a sectional final on Saturday at Kenosha. The Elks knocked off third-seeded Bradford in a shootout on Thursday.
Milton, which was seeded fourth in the sectional, finished 15-6-1 and acquitted itself much better than an earlier match against Tremper, which the Trojans won 8-2 on Aug. 25.
"It was a completely different team from the first time we played them to now," Wagner said. "We improved greatly."
Nowhere was that more evident than in goal, where sophomore Nick Drew, once a forward on the junior varsity team, was thrust into net for the first time against Tremper back in August and allowed six goals.
Drew was under constant fire on Thursday, making 11 saves, many from high-chance areas. That included an impressive sliding stop of a penalty kick in the 62nd minute.
Drew even re-entered the game after being injured on Tremper's third goal early in the second half and yielding momentarily to Brett Gerharz.
"He made some really good saves to keep us in it," Wagner said of Drew.
Behind top-notch finishes and impressive set-ups, the Trojans scored in the seventh, 28th and 41st minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Red Hawks did garner some hope in the 59th minute when Nady Banker was tripped in the box and Milton was awarded a penalty kick. Senior captain Sam Novak took the kick and buried it to the right of Tremper goalie Jordan Zamudio to make it 3-1.
Milton's momentum was further bolstered in the 62nd minute when Drew slid to his right to stop a penalty kick by Tremper's Alex Kolacek.
But Milton's hopes for a monumental comeback quickly ended when the Trojans' Mark Munoz scored on a scramble in the box just a minute later to make it 4-1.
"If they had a pulse, that definitely took care of it," Tremper coach Chris Tindall said.
Wagner didn't disagree.
"Three goals, 15 minutes left, that's kinda tough to come back from," he said. "You've gotta give credit to them. They finished some great goals."
TREMPER 4, MILTON 1
Milton 0 1—1
Kenosha Tremper 2 2—4
KT—Mark Munoz (Jaime Colin), 7. KT—Jordan Dejno (Colin), 28.
KT—Alex Kolacek (Colin), 41. M—Sam Novak (unassisted), PK, 59. KT—Munoz (Dejno), 63.
Saves—Nick Drew (M) 11, Brett Gerharz (M) 0, Jordan Zamudio (KT) 5.