Christian/Lutheran wins shootout to claim first state soccer championship as a co-op
Forgive Tony Schmitz for not having a celebration planned after scoring the winning shootout goal in Sheboygan Christian/Lutheran soccer team’s state championship victory. He is, after all, a goalkeeper.
“I didn’t know what to do, the Lutheran junior said.
“I just kind of slid down finally and had everybody dog pile on me. I was in shock. It was like the best feeling. It was awesome.”
It was the first title as a co-op – Christian has won two and Lutheran one – as a result of a 5-4 shootout victory over Oostburg in the Division 4 final in Milwaukee.
Having already used up his original five kickers, Eagles coach Dan Oppeneer knew ahead of time he would turn to Schmitz if needed.
“He’s a phenomenal goalie, but the reality is he could play in the field on our team,” he said. “He’s got that ability. We practice penalty kicks throughout the year and he’s just as good as the rest of the guys. I talked to him at practice and said, ‘hey, if we determine you’re one of our guys, do you want to take it or just focus on saving everything.?’
“Tony said he’d take it, just tell him when.”
Before Schmitz’s heroics, however, he had to make a final save.
He says he faced the Flying Dutchmen shooter on a penalty kick last season and he scored after Schmitz guessed wrong on his dive.
So this time …
“His hips were telling me to dive left, and just his body movement, so I did,” Schmitz said.
“I dove a little bit too far, so I had to reach back and grab it with my right hand.”
Oppeneer then told Schmitz he was up next, and a goal in what he says was his first shootout attempt in a game in his life, would give Christian/Lutheran the win.
“That moment, I was not nervous really,” he said. “I just wanted to put it into the back of the net and help my team out as much as I could.”
Schmitz has practiced shootout attempts and usually would send the ball to the top right. He looked the opposing goalie to his left knowing he wanted to kick the ball the opposite direction – which he did, into the top corner of the net.
“He didn’t react fast enough,” Schmitz said.
He then ran toward the student section, jumped for a bit and then slid to the turf before his teammates joined the party.
It was the eighth straight victory for SCL, which kept Oostburg from winning its first championship since 1994.
Afterward, the bus returned to Christian and the boys walked off it to the sound of cars honking.
“That was just a great moment,” Schmitz said.
Other Eagles who scored in the shootout were Caleb Hendrikse, Bobby Moeller, Nate Alsum and Kory Hendricks.