Allen, Cards have state in sight

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Bradan Allen and Middleton’s boys soccer team have their sights set on state./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

In Aug., 2013, Bradan Allen and his family had just moved to Middleton.

The freshman-to-be still hadn’t taken a class at his new school. He wasn’t even sure what his class list looked like.

But Allen went to the first game for the Cardinals’ freshman boys soccer team and made quite a first impression.

“My first game I scored four goals,” Allen said. “School hadn’t started yet, but soccer was already going. Nobody even knew who I was that day.”

That anonymity certainly didn’t last long.

Over the last three seasons, Allen has established himself as one of the elite players in the state. And thanks to Allen and a gifted surrounding cast, the Cardinals’ dream of reaching the WIAA Division 1 state tournament is alive and well.

Middleton rolled through regional play last weekend. Now, the top-seeded Cardinals host Madison East in a sectional semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m.

The winner advances to Saturday’s sectional final. The time and location of that game have yet to be determined.

“All the experience we have really, really helps at the high school level,” Allen said. “Having the experience of playing for your school is really important.

“We have a lot of guys who have been through a lot. I definitely feel like if we keep it together and play how we should, we can have a run at state, for sure.”

Middleton has enjoyed a terrific season.

The Cardinals are 16-2-2, have climbed as high as No. 2 in the polls and have proven they can play with anyone in the state. A major reason for that is Allen, who ranks among Middleton’s all-time leaders in career goals (74), career points (171) and game-winning goals (21).

Allen, a University of Wisconsin recruit, has a rare blend of speed and skill that make him virtually indefensible with just one defender. Allen’s ability to attack defenses or set up teammates when double- and triple-teams arrive has been an enormous reason the Cardinals are averaging 4.65 goals per game.

“He just has a nose to go to the goal and a willingness to go to the goal, which is missing in some people,” Middleton coach Ben Kollasch said of Allen. “Just about everyone in the conference, their plan was to double or triple team him. I think this year we’re doing more to take advantage of that. We have a lot more depth.”

That’s certainly true. But there’s no doubt, Allen is Middleton’s most dangerous player at — or near — the goal.

Over the last three seasons, Allen has a goal or an assist in 49 of Middleton’s 60 games. During Allen’s junior and senior campaigns, he’s been blanked just four times.

Allen has scored two goals, or more, 23 different times. He’s also had eight hat tricks and a five-goal game this season against Hartland Arrowhead, one of the state’s elite teams.

In addition, Allen has increased his assist total every year he’s been in the program.

“I think I have a pretty good ability to see the pitch,” Allen said. “I think I can see the open person. And I have a pretty good knack for getting to the goal at all times.”

The first thing that jumps off the page is Allen’s speed. While Allen said he hasn’t been timed in a 40- or 100-yard dash, it’s rare when he’s not the fastest player on the field.

“He certainly is a sprinter type and he makes his living on sprinting,” Kollasch said. “And we treat his body like a sprinter in a lot of ways.

“Speed is fine, but if you don’t use it at the right time and have a plan to destroy people with it, it doesn’t do you any good. He has that killer attitude to use his speed and then he has a very good touch to go with it. I don’t know if it’s the best touch on the team, but when you’re that fast, it doesn’t have to be.”

Allen is also a terrific ball handler and has a deft touch around the goal. It helped him earn first-team all-state honors in 2015, an honor he seems certain to receive again this fall.

“It’s the acceleration more than the speed,” Allen said. “The first touch is what really helps me. Some kids are just as fast as me when it comes to sprinting speed. But it’s just the first touch and getting around them that really helps me.”

Allen is one of the most talkative Cardinals. And he’s known as one of Middleton’s biggest jokesters.

What isn’t a joke, though, is his desire to reach the state tournament.

Middleton’s proud program has been to state 12 times in school history and won the title in 2004. But the Cardinals haven’t been to state since 2011. And Kollasch, now in his fourth season as Middleton’s boss, is looking for his first trip.

Allen & Co. know this group has all the parts to make that dream a reality.

“If we just stick with each other, when it comes down to it, if we play like one, we have a good chance at state,” Allen said. “We all think this is the year.”

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