De Pere soccer stuns Bay Port with second-half rally
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – With its back against the wall, the No. 8-seeded De Pere boys’ soccer team staged a second-half rally against No. 1 Bay Port Oct. 23.
Trailing 2-0 at the break, the Redbirds scored two second-half goals to tie the game and then won in a shootout in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 regional final game at Bay Port.
“It was an exciting game,” De Pere Head Coach Martin Valenzuela said. “Bay Port is always a tough game and was the Fox River Classic Conference champs this season. In the regular season, we lost 2-0. Thankfully, the boys stepped up and got the victory.”
After the Pirates got goals from Josh Howe in the 32nd minute on a penalty kick and Payton Schilz in the 40th minute off a Ryan Amond free kick in the first half, Valenzuela said his boys regrouped during intermission.
“As a reminder, Bay Port got its two goals on two things you don’t usually expect to be called like that,” he said. “At the half, I reminded the boys how talented we are as a team. The boys did the work in the first half, but we had a few unlucky calls go against us.”
Most of the first half was played in Bay Port’s zone, but Valenzuela said he expected that.
“Bay Port controls the ball,” he said. “Knowing that, we knew our game would be played with a few counters and winning the ball in our half. In the second half, we took advantage of the calls in our favor.”
De Pere’s Aiden Cartier notched a goal in the 50th minute to make it 2-1 before Kevin Ramirez’s penalty kick in the 61st minute tied it 2-2.
Going scoreless in overtime, the Redbirds won it in the shootout.
“Once we got that far, I was confident in the boys,” Valenzuela said. “I’m proud of them.”
De Pere travels to No. 5 Hamilton Thursday, Oct. 28, for the sectional semifinal.
“We’ve tried to find and watch as many games of them as we can,” Valenzuela said. “We know they’re a fast team and control the ball like Bay Port. As long as my boys do the work, I’m confident we can get a result.”