Another day, another comfortable win for the Elkhorn Area High boys soccer team.
This latest one wrapped up the Southern Lakes Conference’s regular season title and home-field advantage for the upcoming conference tournament.
So now the Elks can kick back and coast into the postseason, right?
Not quite. Taking it easy isn’t really their style.
“We’re not going to show any mercy to any teams,” said senior center back Ben Vogel. “We give it all we’ve got every single game.”
That mindset is why Elkhorn is the class of the Southern Lakes again.
Alec Birbaum scored twice and the Elks stymied streaking Union Grove 4-0 on Tuesday to secure their third straight league regular-season crown.
The Elks (11-1-0, 6-0-0 SLC) have made this title run look effortless.
They have outscored conference opponents 52-2 ahead of their league finale Thursday at seventh-place Westosha Central.
Elkhorn, which hasn’t lost in its last 24 league matches, will also be looking to add a third consecutive Southern Lakes tournament title in the coming weeks.
Union Grove (6-3-5, 4-1-1 SLC) had been riding a nine-game unbeaten streak before Tuesday’s loss. The Broncos mustered just three shots on goal.
“We just have really good chemistry on the back line,” Vogel said following Elkhorn’s sixth clean sheet in its last seven matches. “We work really well together. We’re a strong, physical team and we’re fast at the back.”
Union Grove’s leading scorer, Logan Farrington (22 goals in 14 games), was held in check while receiving the “Devon Davey treatment" from Elkhorn.
The Elks used an identical strategy, deploying the athletic and versatile Davey, to shut down Delavan-Darien’s Esteven Colin—the state’s leading scorer with 35 goals—in a 2-0 win Sept. 24.
Elkhorn opened Tuesday’s scoring in the 25th minute, when Birbaum beat Union Grove keeper Mitchell Curtin to a ball at the left post and centered a pass to Tommy Spreitzer for a tap-in goal.
Birbaum doubled the Elks’ lead by winning a foot race with Union Grove center back Ryan Petrovic at 42:30.
Luis Roman tucked a shot under Curtin at 50:47, and Gavino Perez’s clever flick set up Birbaum’s second goal at 59:09.
A few minutes later, the match was over.
After lightning was spotted to the north, players and spectators were ordered to seek shelter. But rather than wait out a potentially long delay and play the final 28-plus minutes, Elkhorn coach BZ Kayser and Union Grove coach Sean Jung agreed to end the match.
Elkhorn (18 points) is assured the No. 1 seed for the Southern Lakes tournament. Union Grove and Delavan-Darien—both 4-1-1 with 13 points—have also locked up tournament berths.
The only unknown at this point is which team will grab the fourth and final berth. Badger (3-2-1, 10 points) sits in fourth currently, two points ahead of Waterford (2-2-2, 8 points).
The conference regular season ends Thursday. Waterford would move into fourth with a win over Delavan-Darien and a Badger loss against Union Grove.
ELKHORN 4, UNION GROVE 0
Union Grove 0 0—0
Elkhorn 2 2—4
(Game ended by mutual coaches decision after lightning stopped play in 62nd minute) First half
Elk—Timmy Spreitzer (Alec Birbaum), 24:46. Elk—Birbaum, 42:30.
Elk—Luis Roman, 50:47. Elk—Birbaum (Gavino Perez), 59:09.
Saves—Mitchell Curtin (UG) 1, Preston Ward (Elk) 2. Shots—UG 6, Elk 8. Shots on goal—UG 3, Elk 5. Corners—UG 3, Elk 5. Offsides—UG 0, Elk 1. Fouls—UG 3, Elk 11.