Germantown — The Sept. 23 Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association state poll listed no mention of North Shore Conference leader Germantown.
That will change, as the Warhawks defeated third-ranked Brookfield East, 2-1, in the first game of the Kettle Moraine Quad on Friday. Then on Saturday, Germantown - down chief playmaker Brad Bane - rallied from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 tie with the host Lasers.
Coupled with an impressive 4-1 victory over NSC rival Nicolet on Sept. 21, the Warhawks (9-1-1 overall) are not going to be flying under anyone's radar for much longer.
"Just a great win against a great team" said Omar Sethi. "It was a very good game as both teams had terrific chances and missed a couple. It could have been easily something like 8-7."
The Warhawks, who are 5-0 in the North Shore, took one more serious step closer toward that elusive, first-ever league championship against Grafton on Tuesday. They will be at the Hartford tournament Friday and Saturday and then will close out the NSC season when they visit archrival Homestead on Oct. 5.
Sethi is not allowing the Warhawks to get ahead of themselves.
"They know my thinking," he said. "One game at a time."
Fitness evident in tough wins
In the win over East, sophomore midfielder Tom Beine tied game for the Warhawks early in the second half off a steal, which he lost and then gathered back in. Then with about 25 minutes left, Bane made a nice pass to senior forward Nate Schlitt, who was cut down in the box resulting in a penalty kick.
Bane then pounded the ball home. After that, the Warhawks then had to endure a harrowing 25 minutes of holding off the determined Spartans.
"That was a long time for us to defend," said Sethi. "A very long time, but A.J. (goalie Schlitt) kept us in the game."
If the Warhawks do win the North Shore title, it will be because of the play of people like the Schlitt brothers and their fitness. They run in practice, they run in games. They may even run in the hallways, much to the chagrin of their teachers.
And that's just the way Sethi likes it.
"He never likes to see the ball going backwards or even sideways," said Nate Schlitt, who had two goals in the Warhawks, 4-1, win over Nicolet. "Always go forward, never let the defense breathe."
"We have an attacking style and we're not going to back off," said Sethi afterwards. "We're resilient and fit."
Probably from all that running.
Team ups the intensity
The Warhawks had to go even faster after the Knights scored first at the 7:25 mark of the first half as Knights co-captain Daniel Carpenter took a perfect pass dead-center and popped a long, high-arcing shot just over the fingertips of Germantown goalie A.J. Schlitt and just under the crossbar.
"It was a perfect hit," A.J. Schlitt said. "There wasn't a lot I could do about it."
But his teammates could, as they kicked it up a notch after that.
Nate Schlitt got a quick pass off a fine give-and-go right in front of the Knights goal and scored easily at the 18:39 mark to tie the score.
Then in the second session, the Warhawks jacked up the intensity even further as forward Chris Gioffre took a beautiful crossing pass from the corner and headed it in point-blank at the 45:36 mark to give Germantown the lead for good.
Then the Warhawks broke Nicolet's back with two breathtaking plays just 37 seconds apart.
Midfielder Jacob Bronikowski took a pass right in front of the goal and headed it in at the 55:11 mark. Shortly thereafter, Nate Schlitt got free on the right side and pounded the ball right at Nicolet goalie Kyle Siverhus. Siverhus was able to make the initial save, but the rebound came right back to Schlitt's feet and he sliced it in to the far post for the final score of the night at 55:48.
"They really stepped it up in the box in the second half," said Nicolet coach Brian Weisse. "We knew what they were going to do, it was just hard for us to stop it. They'd sucker us in and then they made it hard for us to stop it."
Afterwards, it looked like the Germantown players had hardly drawn a hard breath.
"Right now we have a young coach and a great group of guys," said A.J. Schlitt. "Omar makes us run a lot, but it does pay off for us. We play hard and have a good time. We're really aiming for that conference title. It would be unprecedented and would be such a great feeling."
Meanwhile, the team is going to keep on moving.
"Coach is great," laughed Gioffre. "He can sometimes be an enemy in practice (with all the conditioning drills), but he's our best friend at game time."
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