Kenosha — Brandon Roesch knows all about playing in pain.
As goalkeeper for the Muskego boys soccer team, Roesch has been kicked, punched, poked, pulled and shoved. So a swollen ankle wasn't about to keep him down.
Despite having only one good foot, Roesch's inspired play - especially in the last 10 minutes - helped Muskego beat previously undefeated Kenosha Bradford, 3-2, Tuesday night in a Southeast Conference match at Indian Trails Academy.
Roesch stopped several point-blank chances and knocked away some scalded shots to preserve the win for the defending WIAA Division 1 state champion Warriors (7-5-1, 3-1). The Red Devils, who had won their first 13 matches, are 3-1 in the SEC.
"Brandon played extremely well considering he was basically on one leg," said Muskego coach Eric Hess. "He came up huge for us. As the match went on, he kept getting bigger and bigger. By the time it was over, he was playing like he was 6-foot-5."
A teammate stepped on Roesch's right foot near the end of Monday's practice. His ankle ballooned, Roesch said, but he felt fine at school Tuesday and was ready to play.
"This was a big confidence boost for us," said Roesch, who helped the Warriors win the state title last year. "We haven't been having the best season so far, but I think this kind of match will help us get out of that slump."
Junior Cesar Gutierrez scored two dazzling goals - one on a line-drive free kick and the other in the 40th minute - to help Bradford pull even, 2-2, by halftime.
"Cesar is one the centerpieces of our team, no doubt," Bradford coach Matt Kellner said. "He has been a starter for three years and we expect that kind of play out of him. On that free kick, I think you could see the smoke coming off it."
In the 53rd minute, Muskego midfielder Paul Palmisano took a pass on the right side and chipped the ball high toward the goal. Bradford keeper Dylan Rausch had come way out of the goal and dashed backward, but the ball bounced into the left side of the net before he could stop it.
"We gave up some silly goals," Kellner said. "We hadn't given up three goals in a game yet until today. I thought we fell into what Muskego wanted us to do."
Down, 3-2, the Red Devils tested Roesch for the rest of the half. In the 60th minute, Gutierrez's free kick from about 20 yards deflected off the defensive wall. In the 71st minute, Roesch knocked aside a laser shot from junior Kyle Gulas and then grabbed the rebound shot seconds later. In the 77th minute, Roesch sprawled to his left to make another big save.
"I feel like I haven't been at the top of my game," Roesch said. "I hope a game like this will help me."
The Red Devils, on the other hand, are determined to start a new winning streak. "Having a 13-1 record right now is great," Kellner said. "We learned some lessons today. We know that one game won't decide our whole season."
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