Since the early 2000s, the Xavier boys soccer team has been a powerhouse.
The Hawks have made five trips to the state tournament since 2003, winning four state titles – with their last one coming in 2012. Their win Saturday marked 14 straight years of winning a regional championship.
After picking up a 1-0 win over Fox Valley Lutheran on Saturday, second-seeded Winneconne will have the chance to knock off the top-seeded and third-ranked Hawks in a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal game Thursday at 3:45 p.m.
“They are ranked third in our division and they have a great team,” Winneconne coach Luis Sayavedra said. “We have a lot of respect for them but I think we can keep it a good game. Primarily for us we have everyone healthy.”
Xavier is coming off a 4-0 win over Berlin in the regional final. The Hawks opened the postseason up with a 10-0 drubbing over North Fond du Lac/Oakfield/St. Mary’s Springs.
Meanwhile, Winneconne edged FVL 1-0 last game after taking care of Little Chute in the opening round.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I think if we create enough opportunities we can beat them,” Winneconne senior Oliver Wallschlaeger said about the matchup. “It will be like old times back when they played in our conference.”
It’s the first time Winneconne has seen Xavier since last season, when both members were a part of the Eastern Valley Conference. The two teams settled for a 2-2 tie as both went on to share the Eastern Valley Conference crown with a 7-0-1 mark.
Both teams have high-powered offenses and respectable defenses. Xavier averages 3.88 goals per game and gives up only 1.25 thanks to goalie Bryan Geenen. Winneconne averages 4.68 goals per game and gives up 1.56 with Daniel Knitt in goal.
“They have a good defense,” Sayavedra said of Xavier. “I think possession in the midfield … we have Oliver (Wallschlaeger) and Tanor (Ecklund) who haven’t played good games in the last couple of games. They are our playmakers and I believe they can play better because they are healthy. We have for the first time (Saturday to Thursday) off and that helps us recover from injuries.”
The Wolves also get Zach Noll back, who was out with a sprained ACL. He played in the last game and scored Winneconne’s lone goal against FVL.
“He didn’t play until the last game of the season against Waupun and he scored a goal,” Sayavedra said. “He played with a brace and he’s getting used to that. He’s somebody who is really strong, good in the air and they have been triple teaming Jacob Brazee but now with Zach they won’t be able to do it.”
The Wolves have a solid offensive core it relies on, and it will be much needed against the Hawks. Jacob Brazee leads the team with 35 goals while Ecklund has 19, Wallschlaeger 16 and Noll with 13.
“In order for us to beat them, we need to finish when we get the chance and keep possession,” Wallschlaeger said. “This win is important for all of us, but it’s especially a special game for the seniors because this could be our last game,” Wallschlaeger added.
Alex Wolf: (920) 426-6661; email@example.com; on Twitter @Wolfa07
WIAA BOYS SOCCER
•Division 3 sectional semifinal
•Winneconne (2) at Xavier (1)
•Thursday, 3:45 p.m.