The Winnebago Lutheran boys soccer team proved once again that rankings and seedings don’t mean much. It’s all about what happens between the lines.
After stunning top-ranked Sturgeon Bay on Thursday, WLA is headed back to State after beating second-ranked Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran 2-1 on Saturday night in a Division 3 sectional final at the Fondy Soccer Complex.
“It was a great feeling to go back to state again,” WLA coach David Haag said, searching for words after the exhilarating win.
WLA (18-5-3) will play La Crosse Aquinas at 9 a.m. Friday at Milwaukee’s Uihlein Soccer Park in a state semifinal.
Aaron Markgraf scored twice on penalty kicks with the game winner coming just 3 minutes before the end of the game.
The first goal came after Jacob Schraufnagel was knocked down in the box trying to get to a corner kick in the game’s 13th minute.
N.E.W. Lutheran pulled one back with a penalty kick of its own. Sam Schaefer converted after the ref called a foul on WLA goalie Caleb King — a decision that Haag was not thrilled about.
The fourth-seeded Vikings weren’t done however. Travis Rieder scared the visitors with a shot that went inches wide. And with time winding down, WLA forward Jeran Huey was fouled at the very top of the box and the referee awarded WLA a penalty kick. Markgraf stepped to the spot and calmly slotted it home for the win.
Caleb King made nine saves, but most of them were fairly easy, as WLA’s defense kept the Blazers from any good looks.
“They’re very good all over the field, and they did a good job of possession,” Haag said of the opponents. “They had a majority of possession even after the (N.E.W.) goal. Other than that, our defense worked very hard to make sure the shots weren’t really dangerous.
“Trent Rieder, our sweeper, and Jacob Schraufnagel, our stopper, led our defensive charge,” Haag said.
While even Haag said it was a little bit of a surprise that his team won back-to-back sectional titles, he said his captains — Markgraf, Schraufnagel and Trent Rieder — were as good as the program’s had.
Oostburg 6, CWC 0
In the 20th minute, a scramble in front of the Crusaders’ net saw the ball land at the feet of midfielder Grant Meerdink, who put it past the keeper and give Oostburg its lead.
Patrick Mauer then put the Dutchmen up 2-0 off a penalty kick, and Oostburg put the game away with a masterful stretch in the second half.
Swihart scored on a beautiful arching shot, then fed Matt DeMaster and Michael Meke for a pair of goals just minutes apart to make it 5-0 and kick off a celebration.
“I thought the third goal (that Jake) Swihart had was a beautiful goal, really the first pretty goal they had,” CWC coach Gregg Zonnefeld said.
With the Crusaders pressing forward to try and get back in the game, keeper Aaron McKinster was strong around the net and senior defender Avery Huibregtse helped lead Oostburg to its third straight postseason shutout.