The Menomonee Falls boys soccer team had a short collective memory on Oct. 20 in its WIAA regional semifinal at archrival Sussex Hamilton.
It paid off in a 2-1 victory.
The Chargers' Connor Provan had just made a strong charge down the left side and beat Indians goalie Trevor Russell with a rocket of a shot to the far post to tie the score up at 1-1 at the 77:47 mark of an intense and loud contest.
But Indians co-captain Ryan Callan and the rest of the team were having none of that. Just 41 seconds later, Callan found himself at point-blank range in front of the Hamilton net. He deftly hammered home a rebound for the go-ahead goal at the 78:28 mark.
The Falls defense then used all resources at its disposal to hold on.
"This is exhilarating," said Callan, who found himself banged up a couple of times during the physical contest. "It was a perfect rebound, right to me. I was really pumped up when it went in. This was an amazing game, the most physical of the year and a win over Hamilton is always the best win of the season."
His coach, Scott Stein, concurred, noting that the quick follow-up goal was emblematic of how this team has played all season.
"These guys just don't quit," he said. "We had a few guys left over from the state team (of 2014) who really didn't like what happened last year (a rare losing season), and they put in the time over the summer, and it's paid off. They just battle and battle the whole time."
The win advanced the Indians (12-8-2) to a 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, regional final at fellow Greater Metro Conference rival and sectional top seed Brookfield Central (11-0-5). Falls fell to Central, 4-0, on Oct. 4, but Stein remains optimistic.
"They haven't lost this season so far, so why not us?" he said.
Meanwhile, the Chargers finished at 6-9-4.
Hamilton Coach Steve Provan said the quick comeback by Falls was indicative of the way the season has gone for his side this fall.
"It actually is," he said. "We lost eight starters to graduation last season, so it was a bit of a rebuilding year. Virtually the entire defense was new this year. And with a young defense like that, we'll have a breakdown, and teams have been able to capitalize on those mistakes."
Since the Chargers tied the Indians, 2-2, on Sept. 20, they have gone 1-5-3.
It looked early on that Hamilton would be able to shake its doldrums when the Chargers created a great chance in the 18th minute, but the Indians cleared three shots in a fast-moving, highly intense sequence.
"We had our chances; we just weren't able to capitalize," said Steve Provan.
The half finished at 0-0, with both teams getting good runs but unable to put any serious threats on goal.
That changed in the second session. Hamilton's Connor Provan was free and running hard, but Russell came out, cut down his angle and made a difficult save in the 56th minute.
Eight minutes later, the Indians hit paydirt when senior midfielder Andrew Godfrey launched a corner kick into the Hamilton penalty box, where Callan deflected it to senior forward Ryan Sanicki, who put it away from point-blank range to make it 1-0, Falls, at the 64:56 mark.
Falls seemed to stay fresher with frequent substitutions in a game where many players on both sides went down with cramps in the 48-degree weather.
But the Chargers found their legs again after Callan's go-ahead goal forced them into a mad rush at the goal in the final minutes.
Stein was putting fresh legs in as fast as he could to keep the defense sound, but in the end, it was the Indians' leading scorer senior forward and co-captain Sam Thomann who cleared the final Hamilton threat off the goal line.
"It was a situation where we just had to keep our heads up," said Russell.
Steve Provan was not surprised at the intensity of the game in the end.
"We played extremely well at times," he said. "We attacked, created chances. The games with Falls and us are always intense, physical battles. We played our hearts out, and I'm sure the guys on Falls did, too."
Callan said this season has been a lot more enjoyable than last year.
"We went through a tough time last year," he said, "and we had a few struggles this year, but the chemistry on this team is much better."
And so the Indians play on.
"We have great athletes like Sam (Thomann), and he and Ryan (Callan) have been great captains this season," said Stein. "We're very confident in our players. We have guys who can play in a lot of spots, and they just compete."