Superior forward Jake Kidd and Chippewa Falls defenseman Mitchell Romundstad got tangled late in the second half of their WIAA boys soccer playoff game at NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior when frustration on the Cardinals began to show, with Romundstad turning around and chucking Kidd after the play.
Kidd rolled to the edge of the turf, his hands actually landing on the running track encircling the field, but he got up and casually gave a nod toward the scoreboard.
Kidd and Co. let their play do the talking, and the result was Spartans history as they rolled to their first playoff victory, a 5-1 rout before about 400 fans who enjoyed a starting evening kickoff temperature of 66 degrees Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Superior.
Kidd had a hat trick and an assist and Ethan DeFoe added two goals for the Spartans, who were also hosting a playoff game for the first time in their 20-plus year history. Third-seeded Superior (15-6-1) plays at 1 p.m. Saturday in the regional final at second-seeded Eau Claire Memorial (10-5-3), a 6-0 winner over Marshfield Tuesday.
“It’s a great feeling,” Kidd said. “We’ve been working hard this whole year, and to have this major accomplishment, to come together my senior year like that is really special.
“I’m looking forward to the game Saturday and hopefully we can make a run.”
When asked exactly how long the program has been around, Kidd smiled and said, “Long enough.”
Superior fell 2-1 to Chippewa Falls Oct. 9 at NBC Spartan Sports Complex but the Spartans were shorthanded for the game due to injuries, with senior goalie Tanner Swanson being among those players who were out.
The teams looked fairly evenly matched until Kidd struck for two goals in a 40-second span of the 17th minute as Kidd, after getting a nice pass from Jeffrey Olson, chipped the ball, causing it to go up and over Chippewa Falls’ goalie Steel Brooke. Defenseman Solomon Mason made one last-gasp effort to save the day but his momentum carried him into the goal rather than deflecting the shot at 16:00.
Kidd scored again at 16:40 with a nifty goal where he kind of cocked and fired, using a drop step to square himself up to bury a blistering shot to the far post.
About five minutes later, Kidd, streaking up the right side, received another nice pass, this one from defenseman Landon James, and Kidd knew what to do with it. Kidd has a knack for baiting defenders, then driving the ball ahead and using his speed to blow past them. That’s exactly what he did here. After retrieving the ball, he almost got taken down but regrouped in time to score inside the near post, giving the Spartans a 3-0 lead at 22:08.
“The game was really physical and started getting a little chippy towards the end,” said Kidd, Superior’s all-time leading scorer who leads Wisconsin with 48 goals this season.
Chippewa Falls (7-10-1) got on the scoreboard at 28:51 after a take down on a breakaway. On the penalty kick, Swanson lunged to his right but sophomore midfielder Ethan Faschingbauer went straight to score.
“We didn’t have a connection tonight,” said Cardinals coach Al Ali, whose team went from only winning a combined five games the previous three seasons to being very competitive this season. “We weren’t connecting on passes, we were letting them beat us to the ball a lot and didn’t execute. We got down and had a tough time battling back. It’s hard to dig yourself out of that mental hole.”
Kidd showed unselfishness in the second half on the breakaway when he could have scored but instead tapped it over to Ethan DeFoe who played it off the post and in at 46:59 as Brooke was left all but defenseless.
“It’s awesome,” DeFoe said. “We’ve never been a part of something like this, so it feels good.”
DeFoe scored again at 57:13 after he did a nice job of corralling a pass from George Hansen and shooting back across to the far post.
“We make things work,” DeFoe said. “It’s not just me, it’s not just Jake. We’ve had that chemistry for a while. It’s our defense, it’s our midfielders, it’s our goalie, it’s everything. We play as a unit.”
And now the Spartans will be playing in the second round of the WIAA playoffs for the first time.
DeFoe is actually a late soccer bloomer compared to most of the 14 seniors on the team, many of whom played together since they were eight years old through AYSA and Gitchi Gummi club soccer.
Superior coach Otto Berti is in his seventh year as Spartans coach, and among the accomplishments already mentioned, Superior beat New Richmond and Wausau West for the first time in a year of firsts for the Spartans.
“These guys just work so well together,” Berti said. “We’ve got depth this year, and that’s something we didn’t have much of in the past.”
Berti admitted next year could be a struggle, but for now, it’s time to celebrate.
“I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it tonight,” Berti said, laughing.
Chippewa Falls 1-0—1
First half — 1. S, Jakob Kidd (Jeffrey Olson), 16:00; 2. S, Kidd, 16:40; 3. S, Kidd (Landon James), 22:08; 4. CF, Ethan Faschingbauer, 28:51 (pk).
Second half — 5. S, Ethan DeFoe (Kidd), 46:59; 6. S, DeFoe (George Hansen), 57:13.
Saves — Steel Brooke, CF, 8; Tanner Swanson, S, 9.