The annual battle between Wauwatosa East and Wauwatosa West felt nothing like the nonconference game in September that it was.
With the Whitman Field stands packed, the Red Raiders snapped a two-game losing streak against their rivals with an emotional 2-0 win over the Trojans, which entered ranked No. 4 in the state in Division 2.
"We asked the boys to just leave it on the field tonight, and they did," Wauwatosa East coach Eric Dale said. "They might have a better side in terms of soccer skill and technical skills, but our boys just played hard.
"They played knowing we had lost to them two years in a row. We were expected to win those games, and we didn't. This is maybe the proudest I've been of a team I've had at Tosa East."
A pair of seniors provided Wauwatosa East with its first goal of the night.
Joey Kortas ran through multiple defenders to set up Andy Moe in the 32nd minute. Moe collected a pass from junior Sam Janisch in front of the net and got the ball past Trojan senior goalkeeper Collin Sieglaff.
"Joey Kortas is a four-year player in our program that was told he wasn't going to get many varsity minutes, if any, this year," Dale said. "He went out there and ran through three tackles and creates a scoring chance for another four-year player in Andy Moe that was getting his first varsity minutes."
Sieglaff and Red Raider senior goalkeeper Sam Rutkiewicz each made big saves to keep the score at 1-0 until the 53rd minute.
Janisch found freshman Jimmy Mroz, who hammered a hard shot past Sieglaff to put Wauwatosa East up 2-0.
"He's going to be a special player," Dale said of Mroz. "We knew that coming in. We have to get him in the weight room, but he has tremendous skill on the ball. That finish was just clinical."
From there, it was all about holding composure for the Red Raiders.
Wauwatosa West sophomore Parker Summers was given a red card for a blow to the head of Mroz in the 54th minute, causing emotions to run high on both sidelines.
The two teams did eventually calm down, but the red card significantly decreased the likelihood of a Wauwatosa West comeback, as the Trojans had to play down a man for the final 36 minutes of the match.
"We've been preaching composure, and we get a red card tonight," Wauwatosa West coach Ryan Bailey said. "That's not good. Now he has to sit out (the next match). Even with 10 (players), we played the way we wanted to.
"It is a learning experience. We have to be composed. It is all we have been stressing. Be composed on the ball, how you act with the other team and the referees — everything is all about composure."
On the other side, Wauwatosa East (2-4-0) did allow the emotions of the match to take over and calmly continued to execute its game plan. Much of that stemmed from Rutkiewicz, who made seven saves for his first shutout of the season.
"That was the key," Dale said. "I think that second goal put them over the top a little bit. They started to press and got anxious and antsy. They still created a lot of chances down the stretch."
Wauwatosa West entered the season ranked in Division 2 carrying high expectations. While it is still early, the Trojans left the rivalry match with a 3-3-2 record and plenty to clean up moving forward.
"Mistakes have been killing us all year," Bailey said. "When we make mistakes, it isn't a bad pass out of bounds for a goal kick. We get countered, we slide in and we give up goals. We do the worst possible things at the worst possible times. It has been killing us.
"We're as good and as bad as we want to be. It all comes from us. When we make mistakes, we give up goals. When we play well, we can be as good as anybody. It is all on us."
While the two teams won't meet again in the regular season, they could match up again in the playoffs, as they find themselves in the same sectional.
"Tosa West is a terrific soccer team," Dale said. "I'm glad we won this one because I have a feeling we might play them when it matters more."