Lawton, Notre Dame beat rival Seymour with late goal
By Greg Bates
SEYMOUR – Emmett Lawton isn’t going to let a missed opportunity slip through the cracks more than once.
The senior forward for the Notre Dame Academy boys’ soccer team made sure of that.
After ringing a shot off the post at the 54 th minute in a 1-1 game against rival Seymour, Lawton got a chance to redeem himself.
With 76:06 showing on the clock, Lawton broke the tie with a nice goal in the box. Seymour pushed late in the nonconference match, and Notre Dame added an insurance tally to close out a 3-1 victory on the road.
The game was a rematch from a WIAA Division 3 sectional final last year that Notre Dame won at Seymour. The Tritons went on to capture a state runner-up finish.
“This is always a game we highlight on the calendar and considering my first few years in the program Seymour and Notre Dame have been knocking each other out of playoffs, so it’s definitely become a rivalry for us,” Notre Dame coach Michael Prudisch said. “We had yet to beat them in the regular season and tonight was the night.
“I know they’re going through some rebuilding and most people would say we’re rebuilding, but we like to say we’re reloading. It’s just next guy up and we’ve got the horses to make the plays that we need to.”
In this early-season clash of soccer titans, Seymour was playing its first game since graduating 12 players a year ago. Notre Dame also graduated the majority of its nucleus.
“I think a very highly-contested game when it was 1-1,” Seymour coach Todd Messner said. “Of course, a little bit of stupidity on our part with a guy getting his second yellow (card), so going a man down. But there were instances where we still could have taken care of more situations. We got a little sloppy with our possession, a little scattered and it led to them getting more chances. You get good teams, they take
advantage of those opportunities like Notre Dame did.”
That opportunity came with just four minutes remaining in the game.
“It started from the back, it was actually my turnover, went back and got it back. Our team motto this year defensively is we’re trying to win them back in six seconds,” Lawton said. “Got the win back, I got it upside to me in the corner — love the corner, I’m usually looking for the cross. Faked the cross, cut back inside, continued inside. They had 10 people instead of 11 because of the red card, no inside center defender and got my shot off. The keeper made a lot of good saves, but that one managed to go in.”
Goalie Noah Leisgang kept Seymour in the game the entire way. His sprawling saves tested the patience of the Notre Dame scorers.
Leisgang finished with 11 saves. Defenseman Mark Rusch also tallied a stop to keep the ball from going in the back of the net in the opening half.
“Noah had a great game,” Messner said. “We’ve got two good keepers and since he did play so well, we actually left him in there for the whole game.”
Lawton opened the scoring for Notre Dame (3-0) at 22:45. He received a cross into the box by Leo Weber and Lawton didn’t make a mistake.
Seymour (0-1) got the equalizer at 53:15 when Pace Jefferson had a sliver of little daylight and beat Notre Dame keeper Arturo Ottum-Cortez.
It was just 80 seconds later that Lawton was stoned by the post.
After Lawton redeemed himself with the eventual game-winning goal, Michael Kussow gave Notre Dame some insurance with a tally with just 25 seconds remaining on the clock.
Other than allowing the one goal, Seymour didn’t have a lot of great offensive opportunities to score against Notre Dame’s defense.
“We focus on us keeping possession and when we have possession, it’s harder for the other team to score,” Prudisch said. “When we do have possession, we try to keep the ball in the other half. Like Emmett said, we try to win the ball back as soon as we lose it, prevent those counter attacks and that’s kind of the way that they were approaching the game. We were able to do a pretty good job of slowing them down.”
Messner was pleased by his team’s effort in the season-opening loss; he’ll make a few adjustments with his squad and be better for it.
Lawton, one of 10 seniors on the Tritons team, knows the tight victory over a rival will go a long way toward the success of the team this season.
“It’s encouraging. It’s confidence for us,” he said. “It shows that we can do it like last year and the one before that.”