By Greg Bates
ACN & Times-Press sports correspondent
GREEN BAY – After reaching the state tournament last year for the first time in program history, the Seymour boys soccer players were looking for a shot at the title this season.
However, the Thunder won’t get that shot.
Seymour played an even first half against Notre Dame, but the Tritons scored two second-half goals to go on to a 2-0 victory in a WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal at Notre Dame on Thursday, Oct. 26.
“I was pleased with how we played defensively in the first half, we did a nice job shutting their stuff down,” Seymour coach Todd Messner said. “They had a couple times they pressured the goal off their free kicks, which we don’t want to give them any free kicks, they had more height than we did. Then, I thought we countered pretty well and had some nice opportunities going forward. I think we should have taken a couple more shots when we had them.”
No. 3-seeded Seymour – which coming in hadn’t lost in October, going 8-0-1 in its last nine games – was outshot 9-6 by No. 2-seeded Notre Dame.
The Tritons (15-10) were called for 17 fouls, compared to nine for Seymour.
“When we got some attack going, I felt like there were quite a few fouls that destroyed our attacks, so it was a little unfortunate that we couldn’t get some more out of that,” Messner said. “We probably had to find a way to score on a free kick, because they gave us quite a few free kicks, too.”
Seymour had a few opportunities to score, getting the ball on the foot of sophomore standout Rhett Driessen. However, every time he got possession, he was double and triple teamed. Driessen, who had 41 goals on the season coming into the match, was limited to just one shot on goal.
“I thought we could have played a lot better, obviously,” Driessen said. “We gave a lot of effort. It’s the most we could do.”
Defensively, the Thunder kept Notre Dame’s offense in check in the first half.
“I really felt like we were going to get one, and we were going to get the lead and finish strong,” Messner said.
The Tritons finally broke the scoreless affair with a goal at the 33:39 mark of the second half. Midfielder Stephen Scripp dribbled past a couple defenders into the box and put a shot on Seymour goalkeeper Nicolas Volz. He sprawled out to his left, got his hands on the ball, but it ended up in the back of the net.
“It’s a tough break,” Messner said. “In a game like this, a break that goes one way or the other sometimes is the outcome of the game.”
Down a goal with time ticking away, Seymour pressed on offense to try to create some scoring chances.
“I still felt like we were in pretty good shape,” Messner said. “The possessions in a tight game where both teams are good you don’t get as many of them, so you’ve got to think, ‘OK, how many times are we going to have a shot here.’ We had to push forward a little more then.”
Keven Sosa-Lassila took the first corner kick of the game at 19:36, but Seymour couldn’t muster a shot on goal.
A short time later, Notre Dame got a goal from forward Charlie Wied, who headed the ball in the box over Volz at 13:57 to make it 2-0.
“Before that got headed in, one of our defenders was right there and challenged for it and I think with a little bit of contact neither one of them got a touch on the ball,” Messner said. “So, it went over them and took another bounce and came up and the keeper was, ‘Do I come? Do I not come? He got caught halfway.”
Seymour had its best chance of the game to score with just eight minutes remaining in regulation. Derek Deschler ripped a shot from about 15 yards out and Notre Dame goalkeeper Noal Watzka, who finished with six saves, made a diving stop.
“I thought we played a lot better the second half, put a lot more pressure on them,” Driessen said.
Seymour finished the season with an impressive 18-5-3 record, having won the Bay Conference title and a second straight regional championship.
“When you keep things in perspective like that, this was a great year,” Messner said. “We’re one of the better teams in the area, so our goal is to become even better and keep the program growing. Sometimes it’s good to remind guys there’s a lot of teams that would really like to get this far. I’m really happy with how we’ve done.”
Said Driessen: “I thought (the season) went really well. We ended up with a good record, beat some teams and had a lot of fun.”
Seymour loses four seniors off this year’s team: Volz, Deschler, Jadin Schuettpelz and Evan Schluenz.
“Some special seniors, and it’s always tough to see them go,” Messner said. “I know it’s emotional for them, but I’m really happy with how they did this year.”
Deschler and Schuettpelz each played in the program for four years and were valuable pieces to last season’s state run.
“Those two have meant a lot, a lot of minutes in soccer,” Messner said. “Jadin’s been a right back for us the last two years starting there and played an excellent game today. Derek came in and got a lot of strong minutes.”
Messner and his players are already looking forward to next season where the goals get even bigger with an experienced corps of athletes back.
“I think we work hard in the offseason and we get better, we can come back stronger,” Driessen said.
“Sometimes as everything goes it’s a month later and you’re looking for guys to do workouts and everything, I think just that reminder, ‘Guys, you want to do big things and you’re really capable of doing really big things,’” Messner said. “There’s a number of guys in this group that have their minds set on trying to win a state championship, and they should be thinking that because there’s a lot of talent there.”
Rhett Driessen of Thunder soccer maneuvers the ball towards the goal of Green Bay Notre Dame during the second half of their WIAA Division 3 soccer sectional matchup on Thursday, October 26. Seymour was unsuccessful in scoring and would lose to the Tritons 2 – 0. – Photo by Keith Skenandore
The Seymour Thunder soccer team celebrate their 5-0 regional championship victory over Sheboygan Falls on Saturday, October 21. – Photo by Keith Skenandore
By Greg Bates