Elkhorn Area High’s boys soccer players needed nearly an hour to solve Waterford’s defensive plan Thursday night.
Once the Elks found the back of the net, though, the goals came in droves and left the team as the lone remaining unbeaten side in the Southern Lakes Conference.
Elkhorn scored its first two goals in a span of 28 seconds and then poured in four more over the next half hour in a 6-0 victory over visiting Waterford. The Elks improved to 5-0 on the season, while Waterford fell to 4-1-1.
“We just had to get that first goal in, and then they had to change to offense and not all defense,” Elkhorn senior captain Luke Truesdale said. “It was easier to put them in after that first one.”
The Wolverines’ back line held strong through a scoreless first half and for nearly 15 minutes to start the second before the Elks broke through in a big way.
The Elks moved the ball up the field in front of their bench and then chipped it in toward the left side of the goal. Sophomore Aaron Paniagua passed it to senior Gavino Perez who calmly finished it for a 1-0 lead at 56:56.
Just 28 seconds later, the Elks sent a seemingly dangerous cross through the scoring box that harmlessly found no one. But sophomore captain Luke Schoeneberg tracked it down at the upper corner of the 18-yard box and finished on a laser of a shot to double the lead.
“We just worked harder in the second half and won more 50-50 balls,” Schoeneberg said. “We knew they were going to be good, but we’re good, too. We knew we had to put it on them.”
Just over five minutes later, senior Marco Perez sent a perfect cross to the front of the goal that was headed in by sophomore Ray Beilman.
Elkhorn then scored twice again in a span of less than 90 seconds less than 10 minutes later. A second goal by Beilman and a slick bender from Truesdale made it 5-0. And senior Tadeo Ortiz tacked on the final goal with just more than three minutes left.
“These guys gave us fits in the first half. That back line is really tough to break,” Elkhorn coach Jordan Kayser said. “We made an adjustment in the middle, and it just kind of opened up. Once one came, the rest of them came.
“They sat back a little bit, so once one went in, they wanted to attack a little more. So once one went in for us, the rest kept flying for us, which was good to see.”
The victory left the Elks alone in first place, with Delavan-Darien and Waterford each having one loss behind them. Elkhorn’s lone matches left are against Union Grove (3-2) and a makeup against winless Wilmot.
“We’ve worked hard a lot of mornings at 5 a.m. throughout the whole year,” Truesdale here.
“And we played a lot of nights in the summer,” junior captain Timmy Spreitzer said. “So we’ve put in a lot of work.”
The Elks are getting their chance to reap the rewards of that work. And they’ve learned in recent weeks they might get even more opportunities than they had hoped.
The COVID-19 pandemic limited the regular-season schedule to Southern Lakes matches only. Leery of whether there would be a WIAA postseason tournament, the Elks—who reached the WIAA Division 2 state tournament last year—set their main goal as a four-peat as SLC champions.
But in recent weeks, they have learned they might get a postseason tournament after all. The WIAA has released sectional groupings, including one in Division 1 that features most of the SLC teams, plus Mukwonago. (Delavan-Darien, with its lower enrollment, is in Division 2).
“That’s just put more drive in us,” Spreitzer said. “We’ve got to work even harder now.”
“It just inspires them more each day,” Kayser said. “We know the season’s only like three more weeks. It’s all just happening so quick. Homecoming this week, next week, then boom, right into the (SLC) tournament, then regionals, sectionals.
“It’s almost like every game is a trophy game from here on out. Delavan-Darien is right there on our heels if we slip up. And then we’ve got the tournaments.
“But I’m just proud of this group. We lost 10 seniors two years ago and 10 seniors this year. It’s just been next guy up, and a lot of the kids have responded.”
ELKHORN 6, WATERFORD 0
Waterford 0 0—0
Elkhorn 0 6—6
E—Gavino Perez (Aaron Paniagua), 56:56. E—Luke Schoeneberg, 57:24. E—Ray Beilman (Marco Perez), 62:48. E—Beilman (Paniagua), 71:06. E—Luke Truesdale (Schoeneberg), 72:34. E—Tadeo Ortiz, 86:47.