It was a brief stay for the Brookfield East Spartans on Thursday at the WIAA state soccer tournament at Uihlein Park in Milwaukee.
Second-ranked Middleton (21-3-2) nipped East (20-5), 1-0, on a goal by Steve Harris following a defensive mistake at the 48 minute, 46 second mark.
Harris had the ball 10 yards to the left of the net when the Spartans defender slid into him and tried to knock the ball away. But it bounced off Harris' leg and came back to him and rolled toward the Spartans net.
Goalkeeper Alex Cagle raced out to cut down on the angle, but Harris lifted the ball over him and into the net.
"I was dribbling the end line, took a little bit too big of a touch," Harris said. "The defender came over and slid and it bounced right off of my leg. It just bounced right off in front of me and the keeper came out and I just touched it over the top of him.
"I was just hoping that I wouldn’t get crushed by the keepr. He kind of slid out and I just touched over him and dove over him."
Disappointed veteran East coach Herbie Dundun summed up the match afterwards.
"A simple defensive error … first time we played them, it was the same thing," he recalled. "That was it. They took full advantage of it and that was the difference."
The match might have been different if junior John Orgovan hadn't missed an in-close goal around the three-minute mark. He got by his defender and before the goalkeeper could react, he drilled a shot off the left post.
"I wish he had gone on the far post," Dundun said. "We went for the short post."
There were other chances for both teams, but they couldn't cash in.
In the 15th minute, Cagle made a great save, leaping to deflect the ball when Middleton drilled a shot headed for the top of the goal. Two minutes later, Jake Griffin, the Cardinals' second-leading scorer, missed a shot to the right of the post.
East's Peter Tongas had a chance to drill in a header in the 55th minute, but it went over the net.
"We hoped we would have gotten a break, but we didn’t." Dundun said.
Dundun was disappointed with the Spartans slow start. He felt they would have come out stronger with revenge on their minds having lost, 1-0, to Middleton earlier this year.
‘Unfortunately, we started too slow," he said. "We never got away from that. By the time we turned it on, it was too late. They took full advantage of it and that was the difference. I wish we would have started early, taking care of business, but we didn’t."
Veteran Middleton coach Ken Burghy agreed that the first goal changed the game.
"I expected a low-scoring game, of course," he said. "The first goal is a very important one to get. I never count Brookfield East out. They have great coaching, always have great kids. You know it's going to be a battle.
"We were very fortunate to be able to handle them twice in the same season. It wasn’t likely to happen. I thought they would have come out here, having played us before, have a ittle payback on their mind.
"Fortunately we withstood that stuff and kept them out of our goal."
Dundun was still pleased with the season his kids put together.
"In all, I’m still proud of my boys, for the effort," he said. "We lost nine guys, so to have them come this far, is huge."
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