Work ethic, either a person has it or they don't.
And in the mind of Germantown boys socccer team coach Omar Sethi, how the Warhawks rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the final 15 minutes to beat Nicolet, 3-2, in a critical North Shore Conference game Monday night came from an ethos that these players were born with.
"The resilience of this team is a testament to the character of a community," said Sethi. "It's testament to a work ethic that these kids have had instilled in them their entire lives. That they were raised with."
It would be hard to argue that point after looking at the exhausted, sweat-stained and limping leaders of the Warhawks afterward as their relentless effort helped lift the team to a 5-1 record in the North Shore and drop a game Nicolet unit to 3-2-1.
All Germantown needs now is a win or a tie against Homestead next Tuesday to clinch their second league title in three years.
It's been a long time since the muggy August night when the Warhawks dropped their North Shore opener to Whitefish Bay.
"We came out and worked everyday, we trained our tails off for just a moment like this," said senior midfielder Thomas Beine, "and Dan (senior forward Hougard) have wanted something like ever since our sophomore year (when the Warhawks won their first league crown)."
"We still always believed," said Hougard, who had two assists and who made dangerous runs on the Knights all night long despite getting nicked up midway through the second half
Yes, it was just a matter of will.
The Knights, who themselves would have been in control of their own North Shore destiny had they pulled out the win, took a 2-1 lead just 4:34 into the second half as junior midfielder Julian Bidard made a strong run down the left side and flipped a perfect crossing pass to Knight co-captain Calvin Knox, who converted the shot easily from point blank range.
And it seemed that that goal would hold up, as a Germantown point blank shot was missed just five minutes later, and then a close free kick for the Warhawks didn't go either.
But as the senior Hougard indicated, they kept believing and working as shortly thereafter he made a swift run down the middle of the field and as he has done several times this successful season, he forced the goalie to commit and when that happened, he flipped a pass to junior midfielder Paul Ciszewski, who poked it home to tie the score at the 64:56 mark.
The Warhawks continued pressing and in the 72nd minute, senior midfielder Collin French missed a shot, but Ciszewski was right there and he slapped it hard towards the goal. It nudged off the post and went in for the lead.
"It all started with a good ball by Travis (senior forward Beimel)," said Ciszewski. "Frenchy (French) kind of deflected it and then the ball just dropped at my feet. It was an easy enough finish from there."
Nicolet, which fell behind in the first half then tied it before the break on a goal by Brady Behling off a nice pass from Collin Gruener, was not able to muster a serious threat in the final minutes.
"We were feeling pretty good with 20 minutes to go," said Nicolet coach Luis Mejia. "We knew we were very close to some very exciting possibilities (a chance at a conference title), but honestly, it was just a well-played match."
"That the last goal came off a deflection, there's not much you can do about that. They got the right break and we got the wrong one. ...Both teams wanted this very badly and neither was willing to quit."
Hougard, who assisted on the first goal of the game that was scored by Beimel at the 20:54 mark, agreed.
"We knew it would be a physical game," he said. "We were both playing for a title, so we had to come out with some real intensity."
And that's what impressed Sethi the most.
"This feels great," he said. "This team is not as talented as ones we've had in the past, but we still have quality players and these kids worked very hard to make something like this happen."
"That kind of quality showed up when we needed it tonight."
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