Elkhorn enters state soccer tournament fueled by inner drive
That honor belongs to top-ranked Milwaukee Marquette, the defending state champion and winner of seven of the last 11 Division 1 state titles.
The Elks, however, have something else going for them, according to coach Quentin “BZ” Kayser.
“I don’t know how to explain it to anybody, but this team has the most heart I’ve ever seen in my life,” Kayser said. “And I’ll take heart over talent any day.”
Elkhorn (23-1) opens up state tournament play at 7 p.m. against Neenah (21-3-2) in a Division 1 quarterfinal game at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee. This is the first state tournament trip in 23 years of the Elkhorn program.
The Elks won the Southern Lakes Conference title this season for the first time in school history and come into today’s game riding a 20-game winning streak. The team’s last loss was in game four of the season, a 4-2 setback against Kenosha Tremper. Elkhorn beat Tremper, 2-1, last Saturday to win the sectional title
Elkhorn may not be the most talented team at state, but it does have one of the most talented players in Jordan Kayser. The senior and coach’s son, leads the Elks in every offensive category. He has 26 goals and 26 assists, despite constant double- and triple-teaming from opponents.
Jordan said earning a state-berth was more than a pipedream for the Elks, despite playing in a sectional that includes Kenosha Tremper and Kenosha Bradford.
“We set three goals coming into the season,” Jordan said. “The first goal was to make it to state. The second was to win our conference, and the third was to win 20 games. We’ve done all three.
“But just because we made it to state doesn’t mean that we’re satisfied. We plan on doing some damage up there.”
The Elks had to get past the two Kenosha schools to advance to state. Bradford and Tremper have 10 state appearances between them. Elkhorn beat Bradford, 3-2 in a shootout, in a sectional semifinal game last Thursday.
The Elks trailed 1-0 before Jon Stopple tied the game on a penalty kick late in regulation. Stopple’s penalty kick came after the Elks were awarded a second penalty kick after Bradford’s goalie came out of the crease too early on the first penalty kick.
Elkhorn trailed 1-0 in the sectional final game against Tremper, but Kayser and Stopple scored back-to-back goals in the first half as the Elks rallied for the win. Elkhorn goalkeeper Eric Papenfus stopped 12 shots in the second half to preserve the win.
Stopple believes the two sectional wins will carry over to state.
“We knew we could play with anybody all year, but I think beating those two teams really gave us a lot of confidence heading into state,” Stopple said.
“If we continue playing with momentum, and continue to play our game, we can play with any team at state.”
Coach Kayser, in only his second year, believes the Elks can make a run at state. He credits an attacking offense, a stout defense, and the strong play of Papenfus for the team’s gaudy record. Papenfus is allowing only 0.50 goals per game.
“This team is not satisfied with just making it to state,” coach Kayser said. “They’re hungry and want to get a (gold or silver) ball.
“People might consider us kind of like David vs. Goliath, but this team has the heart of a champion.”
And plenty of talent to go with it.