PORTER TOWNSHIP | Wheeler coach Bryan Murray said his team has been a second half team all season, and the Times No. 7 Bearcats proved it once again Saturday against No. 10 Boone Grove.
The Bearcats trailed 1-0 at halftime, but they scored four straight times in the second half en route to a 4-2 win over the Wolves to clinch the Northwest Indiana Soccer Conference title.
“(Winning the crown) is a great success,” said Wheeler senior Alexa Fratzke, who scored twice after the break for Wheeler (11-1, 8-0). “It puts our school on the board, and now we have to look out for sectionals and keep going.”
Wheeler's offense was sluggish in the first half with no shots on goal.
“In the first half, we weren’t working the ball like we typically do to create opportunities,” said Murray, whose team had five shots on goal in the second half. “We changed that up at halftime, and we got back to what we’ve been doing and been successful at all year.”
Fratzke scored in the opening minutes of the second half to tie the game at 1-1. Terra Phillips’ goal in the 50th minute gave Wheeler the lead for good at 2-1.
“No doubt that somewhere in the mid-second half when Wheeler scored the second goal, it shocked us,” Boone Grove coach Chad Roggow said.
Less than two minutes later, Boone Grove’s Claudia Cooper was called for a push inside the goal box, and Fratzke was awarded with a penalty kick. Her kick went into the right side the net and extended the lead.
"(Alexa) creates opportunities, and she’s a gamer,” Murray said. “She’s been nursing a knee this last week and hasn’t had that much practice time, so she was a little show to get going in the first half. She dialed it up in the second for us and put on a good performance.
Nicole Skopelja scored the fourth goal for Wheeler with eight minutes left on a solo shot from the left side.
Boone Grove (10-2, 4-1) had opportunities to add goals in the first and second half, but the shots were either just wide or hit the cross bar.
“I was really worried in the first half because we had two opportunities that went right over the bar," Roggow said, "and you wish you could have it back."
The Wolves added a second goal with 6:34 left to play. Cooper hit a header into the center of the net off a corner kick from Paige Aguilera. Aguilera scored the first goal for the Wovles on an assist from Elizabeth Barton in the 33rd minute of the first half.
Wheeler goalkeeper Kim Moskovich had two saves.
Boone Grove had nine shots, four on goal during the game, and keeper Rachel Gerhardt had one save.