Verona boys lacrosse will not get an opportunity to defend its state title following 12-5 to Middleton in the third round of the playoffs Monday, June 3, at Otto Breitbach Stadium. The Wildcats, seeded 10th, led from the start Friday, May 31, and won its first playoff game 10-7 against Milwaukee Marquette, seeded seventh.
Middleton 12, Verona 5
The host Cardinals scored on their first three shots against Verona and on seven out of nine Monday to take a commanding 7-0 lead into halftime. Middleton senior attacker Ayden Henderson had a first half hat trick. Fellow seniors Kevin Grelle and Nathan Kapp and sophomore midfielders Philip Mackey and Jack Schutte each scored twice.
Verona cut Middleton’s lead to 9-5 with goals from senior attacker Graham Jeske and junior midfielders Luke Grendahl and Sam Wood in the third quarter. Long-stick midfielder Michael Romes scored 2:40 into the fourth quarter and junior midfielder Junior midfielder Haakon Anderson added a goal four minutes into the final period to pull the Wildcats within four goals.
The Cardinals scored three-unanswered goals over the final four minutes to ice the win. Middleton swept Verona 10-2 and 16-6 during the regular season.
Verona 10, Marquette 7
It is quite apparent upon entering Mitchell Park that this is a special field, painted in green and gold and the word “Packers” in the end zone. After all, the Packers used to practice on this field before it was moved to Milwaukee.
Up 8-3 at the end of three quarters, the Wildcats were just 12 minutes away from advancing in the playoffs. A fake by sophomore attacker Zach Thomas and a precise pass to junior attackman Devin extended the Verona lead to 9-3.
However, the Hilltoppers found a surge of scoring of their own, all within 90 seconds, and the game tightened up 9-6 with 9:30 to go. Lindell took a solid shot down the pike, which the Hilltoppers goalie initially stopped, but the speed of the shot carried the ball into the net 10-6.
Jeske twisted and turned his way around defenders for an unassisted goal, his first of three in the game. Marquette came back with a goal of their own and with the score tied at the end of the first quarter.
Jeske’s next goal (assist by Anderson) and goals by junior midfielder Xavier Howard and Volk (assists on both from Thomas) put Verona up 4-1.
The Wildcats’ defense saved one of their best games of the season with solid hits and checks, many times dislodging the ball from the Hilltoppers’ sticks, namely with great play by senior Logan Peterson and Verona’s All-State defender junior Ollie Gauthier.
Another strong shot from the host team hit the pipe at the 3:05 point in the second quarter, and a noteworthy solid save from the Wildcats sophomore goalie Luke Quakenbush held Verona’s 4-2 lead heading into halftime.
The Wildcats started the second half with four consistent scores by Lindell, Jeske, Howard and junior midfielder Adam Bexk with an assist from junior faceoff specialist Karl Sutter.