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Tough loss ends season
Patrick Gellings looks to send a shot down the field during Monroes 2-1 loss to McFarland in the WIAA Division 2 regional final.
MADISON - Sometimes the most uplifting game in the sports season is followed by the most heartbreaking.

That was the case for the Cheesemakers, as they lost to McFarland, 2-1, in the WIAA Division 2 soccer regional final at Breese Stadium Thursday, just two days after knocking off Cambridge-Deerfield in a shootout.

"It was very disappointing," Monroe head coach Tony Stamm said. "We were looking forward to playing again next week."

Monroe's players had hoped for a better outcome, especially senior midfielder Michael Gross.

"It was a good game. We had a lot of confidence (coming in)," he said. "We had chances that we didn't capitalize on ... We could have won. We could have gone a lot farther."

McFarland's Ben Grill scored a goal off of a corner kick with 13 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first half. The kick sailed into the crowded box, with a Monroe defender heading the ball into open space. Cheesemaker goalkeeper Jordan Steurer was unable to get to the loose ball in time, and Grill opened up the scoring.

"We had a couple defensive breakdowns and our offense didn't put the ball into the net. Everyone's at fault. They played better than us," Gross said.

A second goal by the Spartans just four minutes later was erased by the referee, and Monroe used the break to cash in.

With 3:11 left in the half, Gross recovered a loose ball at midfield and sent a looping pass to Andrew Aurit, who was breaking towards the goal. Aurit outlasted the shoving of his defender and sent a shot passed McFarland goalie Mikey Juszczyk.

Tied up at 1-1, Monroe knew the game wasn't over.

"We controlled the ball in much of the first half. Many times we just couldn't get it in there," Stamm said.

McFarland scored in the 56th minute, as David Reinke caught a brilliant pass downfield, dribbled passed Monroe's Gabe Hermanson, who fell, and sent a one-on-one shot beyond the reach of Steurer for the game's final goal.

"(McFarland) kept pushing down and then got that lucky breakaway. That took care of it," Stamm said.

Steurer finished with 11 saves.

The Cheesemakers continued to control the ball, pushing hard to score. The closest Monroe got to tying the game was with 25 minutes left. Gross took control of the ball in crowded space above the box and sent a shot towards the goal. Juszczyk tipped the ball just a foot wide of the left post and out of bounds.

"It's frustrating. We had a couple of opportunities, we just couldn't put it in the back of the net," Aurit said.

The following corner kick was knocked away. The Cheesemakers kept up the pressure, but McFarland's defense was up to the task the rest of the way.

"I thought we were going to tie it up, but we just couldn't finish it," Stamm said. "It was very frustrating. They had almost everybody right in front of their goal. We could get it down there, but we just couldn't finish."

Aurit, Gross, Steurer and twelve other Cheesemakers played their final high school game.

"We played our hearts out. We had a great season. I wish we could have gone a little farther in playoffs, but that's Monroe history," Aurit said.

The Cheesemakers return just six varsity players to next year's roster, but Stamm said the program could not have been left any better.

"These seniors had an excellent season. They outdid the years past," he said. "For the other guys coming up, we just have to work hard in the off season so we can get up to this position again."

Monroe finishes the season with a 14-7 record.