BROOKFIELD 鈥 To the untrained eye, everything seemed hunky-dory with Brookfield East鈥檚 girls soccer team.

The Spartans were 9-3 heading into Friday鈥檚 showdown with mighty New Berlin Eisenhower. East was ranked No. 8 in the latest Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association Division 1 poll.

But the Spartans themselves would be the first ones to tell you they weren鈥檛 playing as well as they can.

Get daily updates from The Freeman sent directly to your email inbox.

"We haven鈥檛 really clicked yet," East coach Matt Bingen said. "We鈥檝e been saying we鈥檙e one step away from clicking."

East took that step against a terrific Eisenhower side 鈥 and boy, did the Spartans click. East scored three goals in an eight-minute, second half window and downed the visiting Lions, 4-2, in a nonconference game between two area powers.

Eisenhower, ranked No. 2 in Division 3, fell to 10-2, while the Spartans improved to 10-3.

"We really found our way," said East senior forward Miya Bilal, who had two second half goals and an assist. "We haven鈥檛 really clicked as well as we wanted to throughout the season, but I think right there in the first part of that second half we really found our way."

East has tremendous speed led by Bilal and sophomore forward Braelyn Hundt. And those two were both instrumental as the Spartans erased an early 1-0 deficit with four goals in less than 20 minutes.

The Lions grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute when senior midfielder Mary Kowitz gathered a deflected ball from seven yards out and beat keeper Sam Schroeder to give Eisenhower a 1-0 lead.

But the final nine minutes of the first half and the first 10 of the second half is the kind of soccer East has been striving for all season long. Not only did the Spartans score four goals, they did it by playing the type of soccer Bingen draws up.

"It was just wonderful, calm, composed soccer," Bingen said. "Passing, moving, passing, moving. And it clicked. And I think a lot of the girls felt that.

鈥淲hen you see those flourishes, it鈥檚 not that we鈥檙e asking them to do something magnanimous that they can鈥檛 do or is out of their skill level. It鈥檚 there. It wasn鈥檛 a fluke. It was just beautiful soccer.鈥

Boy, was it ever. East got the equalizer on a gorgeous, unassisted goal from Hundt in the 32nd minute. Hundt corralled a loose ball on the left edge of the box, used some fancy footwork to beat her defender and sent a 15-yard blast past keeper Mackenzie Stanton to the top-right corner, tying the game, 1-1.

In the 43rd minute, Bilal scored the eventual game-winner, an unassisted goal from 5 yards out in which she beat Stanton to the left corner.

鈥淭hey鈥檙e a fantastic team. They鈥檝e got a lot of speed. They鈥檙e a really good squad,鈥 Eisenhower coach Nick Datka said. 鈥淭hey were able to get behind us. We misplayed a couple of balls, but just the speed hurt us.

鈥淭hose two girls (Hundt and Bilal) are so fast and they鈥檙e strong on the ball. We didn鈥檛 make catastrophic mistakes. It鈥檚 just if we could go back and hit the re-do button, maybe we鈥檇 play the ball a little bit differently.鈥

In the 50th minute, senior Lily Becker scored on a nifty feed by Bilal to give East a 3-1 lead. Then just 54 seconds later, Bilal scored again on an assist from Hundt as the Spartans surged to a 4-1 advantage.

鈥淚 told them that sequence is literally why I got into coaching, to see that sort of play,鈥 Bingen said of East鈥檚 second half flurry. 鈥淭hat was some of the best ball movement, on and off the ball, that I鈥檝e seen them or any high school team play in a long time. I know they have the skills. They can absolutely be the best team in the state. It鈥檚 there. It鈥檚 just continuing to replicate it.鈥

Lions senior midfielder Sarah Stadler got behind the defense and scored her 15th goal of the season in the 62nd minute to pull Ike within 4-2. Eisenhower also hit the post twice in the final 20 minutes and showed why it will be in the hunt for a Division 3 state title next month.

鈥淲e were six inches away from it being a 4-4 game,鈥 said Datka, whose team won a state title in 2022. 鈥淪o, what I liked most is we kept battling. We鈥檙e down 4-1 and we鈥檙e still pushing and we鈥檙e still attacking. It鈥檚 easy to sit here and say, 鈥榠t鈥檚 not going to be our day.鈥 But we didn鈥檛 do that. We kept trying to find ways.鈥

In the end, East might have found its way against one of the better teams in the state.

And as the Spartans get ready to tackle a sectional that includes top-ranked Arrowhead, No. 5 DSHA and No. 7 Hamilton, East picked the perfect time to find its mojo.

鈥淚 think this is going to give us a lot of energy and allow us to find what we鈥檙e good at and end the season strong before state comes around,鈥 Bilal said. 鈥淚 definitely think this can be a catalyst as we progress towards the end of the season.鈥

Tags

Recommended for you