APPLETON — There is a difference in sports between playing fast and being impatient.
John Meyer felt his Xavier soccer team fit the latter category Tuesday night.
The Hawks launched twice as many shots as Seymour, but had to settle for a 2-2 tie in a Bay Conference stalemate at Rocky Bleier Field.
“I just thought we were impatient,” said Meyer. “And, after awhile, we got caught up in the emotions of the physical part of the game. But it was a hard-fought game. Sometimes games like this teach you lessons that take you a little farther and deeper in the playoffs.”
The tie didn’t do much damage to Xavier’s Bay title hopes. Xavier (4-0-2 Bay) has three conference games left and will win the conference with league victories over Green Bay West, Menasha and Green Bay East. The Hawks, ranked third among Division 3 teams in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association state rankings, will close the regular season Oct. 15 at home against the Red Devils and that match could be a winner-takes-all showdown. Green Bay East is the current Bay leader at 6-0-1.
“With Green Bay East playing well, I think we’re going to have to win out,” said Xavier midfielder Matt Burton. “I didn’t think we played very well tonight. We should have finished a few more plays.”
Xavier (11-2-3) had 10 shots to Seymour’s five, but a solid Thunder team (9-7-3, 4-2-1) played sound defense and retaliated each time the Hawks scored. Senior forward Paolo Lassila netted both Thunder goals.
“I thought we played really well,” said Seymour coach Todd Messner. “They had a lot more attacks going. They had more shots. We’ve been up and down, so this is a great result for us. The guys know that Xavier is a very tough team and has a tradition of being one of the strongest teams in the state. We had a few more opportunities in the second half and had a chance to sneak away with a win.”
Xavier led 1-0 at the half, opening the scoring at 6:47 on a Seth Theilig goal, which came off a deflection following a corner kick.
“Our keeper slipped and our defender wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, and ended up knocking it in,” said Messner. “So, there was a little bit of luck I felt from their corner. But they were really threatening because of the number of corners they had. They had 10 of them, so it’s not a surprise they were able to score off a corner.”
Lassila scored his first goal on a breakaway at 53:14 to tie the match, but Xavier’s Tate Resch-Gauger answered four minutes later with a blast in front of the net to put the Hawks up 2-1.
However, Xavier’s lead was short-lived. Lassila scored on a penalty kick just 65 seconds later, drilling the ball into the left corner of the net past Xavier sophomore keeper Bryan Geenen to tie the game for good.
“He (Geenen) had never played goalie before and he’s learning the position a bit,” said Meyer. “I always tell him to trust his instincts. I wish he wouldn’t have trusted his instincts on that second goal, but everyone has to learn how to handle different situations. He’s a good kid and hard worker who listens. He’ll keep getting better.”
Xavier nearly went ahead at the 69-minute mark, but a Resch-Gauger shot that looked like it was headed into the net bounced harmlessly off the crossbar.
Seymour senior keeper Brayden Wilinski finished with four saves, while Geenen had three.
“Our goalkeeper does a great job and keeps us in a lot of games,” said Messner. “It’s pretty helpful having Brayden back there.”
Goals: Seth Theilig X 6:47; Paolo Lassila S 53:14; Tate Resch-Gauger X (Theilig) 57:06; Lassila X pk 58:11. Shots: Xavier 10, Seymour 5. Saves: Brayden Wilinski S 4, Bryan Geenan X 3.
Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or email@example.com; on Twitter @twfroberg
Varsity Roundtable Wednesday, Oct. 7:
Golfers Hannah Braun of Kimberly and Trystin Kluess of Fox Valley Lutheran will be featured Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. on Varsity Roundtable, our weekly prep sports program. Join host Ricardo Arguello for a fun and fast-paced conversation, and don’t miss the shout-out segment of every show. Watch live and chat in real-time on postcrescent.com.