By RICH PALZEWIC
DE PERE – With the beginning of Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) play, the intensity was ratcheted up for the Notre Dame Academy and De Pere boys’ soccer game on Tuesday night.
After De Pere jumped ahead in the 16th minute, the Tritons got the equalizer in the 78th minute from Elliot Bordini to salvage a 1-1 tie at De Pere High School.
The Tritons came into the game undefeated and the No. 1 ranked Division 3 team in the state in the latest Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association Poll.
“That was an intense game,” Notre Dame coach Michael Prudisch said. “When conference play starts, that’s what you expect. Typically, you have one or two rivals on your schedule, but in the FRCC, there’s like four teams who are rivals.”
Prudisch said his squad needed a game like this.
“I’m glad we got the equalizer to salvage a tie,” he said. “This was our big first test. Coming in at 7-0, we were feeling good about ourselves. To go far this season, we have to find a way to win games against competitive teams.”
De Pere’s Andrew Cartier scored off an assist from James Dorchester at the 15:46 mark of the first half on a scrum in front of the net.
“It helped that both crowds showed up for the game — it was excellent,” De Pere coach Martin Valenzuela said. “Notre Dame is one of the better teams in the conference, and they’ll be battling for an FRCC title.”
Notre Dame’s Thomas Geocaris had a couple of good looks about 11 minutes into the second half, but De Pere goalie Brayden Coyle made a pair of saves to keep the Tritons off the board — at least temporarily.
“Our biggest issue has been playing a full 80 minutes,” Prudisch said. “We tend to be more of a second-half team, so I was glad how we came out after intermission.”
It looked like De Pere (2-1-4 overall, 0-0-1 FRCC) was going to pick up its biggest win of the season so far, but the senior Bordini changed that at the 77:43 mark.
“I was originally playing center-back the whole game,” Bordini said. “With 10 minutes remaining, I went to defensive-mid. I saw the ball coming in there, went for it and slid it in. We need to work on keeping the intensity high the whole game. De Pere is a big rival, so it was a fun game to be a part of.”
Valenzuela said his squad was disappointed in the outcome.
“It’s a tie, but it’s tough when the other team scores in the last couple of minutes,” he said. “There were a couple of chins down, but at the end of the day, the boys know they put the work in. We’ve had a few unlucky results so far this season, but the boys are improving each game.”
Prudisch thought his squad had more control of the game.
“Maybe I’m biased, but we had more opportunities than De Pere,” he said. “The majority of the time, if we play a game like that (with so many chances), we will come away with a victory. De Pere is a good squad.”
By RICH PALZEWIC