Boys Soccer vs. Oostburg
On Saturday, October 31st, the University School boys’ soccer team had a game plan. It worked to perfection. As a result, the Wildcats defeated Oostburg, 2-0, in the Sectional 3 Final in the WIAA Division 3 state tournament playoffs held at Kohler High School. Consequently, the Wildcats are headed to the State Tournament once again.
USM’s plan took advantage of the conditions. The wind was fierce. The Wildcats faced it in the first half.
Bradshaw Morel, one of USM’s captains, commented on the situation, “We showed up today energized to get a huge win to go back to the state tournament. We started off the strongest we have all year. Our game plan was to draw in the first half because of the high winds, which were against us. We succeeded and started off the second half with the winds.”
The first half stayed scoreless. Despite the advantage of the wind, the Dutchmen were unable to score. The USM defense was determined and kept the Oostburg forwards at bay.
The Dutchmen managed just 4 shots in the opening 45 minutes, only one of which went on frame. Ali Mortada, USM’s keeper stopped that shot. In the same time period, the Wildcats took just 1 shot, which Oostburg’s goalie, Carson Dekker, handled.
The totals changed in the second half. USM took 8 shots and put 6 on goal. Oostburg took 3 shots and put 1 on goal. The Dutchmen did have several corners and a free-kick from just outside the USM 18 yard box, but the attempts produced only goal kicks for the Wildcats.
In the full game, Mortada made 2 saves while Dekker made 6 in the Dutchmen’s net.
The scoring also changed in the second half. At the 68:55 mark, USM’s Ben Lenikman captured a Dutchman clear. He immediately took a high shot. The wind gripped the ball in its clutches and steered it beyond the grasp of Dekker, giving the Wildcats a lead they would not yield.
Morel said, “After applying much more pressure in the second half, it paid off around the 70th minute when Ben hit a banger from over 30 yards out. Oostburg was noticeably distraught and having to press harder for a goal, they left themselves vulnerable to a counter-attack.”
The Wildcats added to the Dutchmen’s distress a few minutes later. Noah Eghbali sent a through pass to Darius Wright. The speedy forward took off on a breakaway and finished the chance with a shot in the net at 74:36. The insurance goal sealed Oostburg’s fate and helped send the Wildcats on to the State Tournament.
Jock Mutschler, USM’s head coach, explained, “The Oostburg squad's defensive shape and general orientation is predicated on getting nine bodies behind the ball with direct transitional connections to their striker. So, an opponent with this approach to the game coupled with our finishing challenges was daunting, at least to me. I doubt the boys were fazed, however.
"In fact, I know they were not fazed by this as they displayed determination throughout the match, especially in the first half, facing a ferocious 24 mph wind that intermittently gusted to higher speeds. The wind definitely framed the match. The boys battled the wind and the Dutchmen and claimed a ‘victory’ at halftime. I had to agree with their assessment. Things were looking good for the Wildcats. The boys pledged to use the wind, adding their intensity, to get on top in the second half. The boys dominated play for the first fifteen minutes of the second half. The next ten minutes saw a battle developing in the midfield. The Dutchmen started to come alive and show some mettle. At that point, the boys finally caught a break. The winds of good fortune blew our way. Ben's service deep into the penalty box got caught up in an upper draft and rotated over the outstretched arms of Oostburg's goalkeeper. The game-winning goal for Ben. Renewed enthusiasm for all the boys. We could then rearrange some assets and play a bit more of a defensive scheme. All was well.
"I appreciated the shifts that Darius put in at striker. His insurance goal was exquisitely crafted. He showed for the ball, deftly slip headed it to himself, speed dribbled to the center of the field to improve his angle and slotted it home with clinical precision.”
Looking ahead, Mutschler also said, “I will participate in the seeding meeting tomorrow. It appears as though the state semi-final matches will be at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 7, with the final slated for 7:00 p.m. Unorthodox to be sure. We'll learn more about the details surrounding the tournament tomorrow.”
The Wildcats head to the tournament undefeated. USM is 11-0. On Sunday, the Wildcats received the second seed of the four teams remaining in Division 3. Therefore, they are scheduled to play Saint Lawrence Seminary in the WIAA Division 3 State Tournament semifinals at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 7th at Kewaskum High School.