There was a sense that the team that caught the first lucky break Saturday would be the one heading to State.
The University School of Milwaukee happened to catch that first break — with less than a minute left in overtime, no less — sending a low corner shot just beyond the reach of Sheboygan Christian/Lutheran’s 6-foot-3 goalkeeper to take a 1-0 sectional championship win and earn a berth in this week’s Division 4 boys soccer tournament.
For nearly 90 minutes before that, though, two of the state’s top-ranked boys soccer teams held each other in check. Eagles sophomore goalkeeper Eddie Windsor was unflappable all afternoon, securing important saves through all 80 minutes of regulation and through most of the 10-minute overtime. Christian/Lutheran’s offense, meanwhile, had several chances, but couldn’t sneak any shots past the Wildcats’ aggressive defense.
“University School just played really tough,” Christian/Lutheran coach Perry Phillips said after the game. “I thought we held our own with ’em and I thought we had some great opportunities, but credit to their defense for playing tough on us.”
The loss came with about 40 seconds left in overtime, when University School’s Isaac Schlenker sneaked a low shot into the bottom right corner of the Eagles’ net. The shot ended a remarkable season that saw Christian/Lutheran — a team in just its second year as a cross-town parochial co-op program — ascend to the top of the Central Lakeshore Conference.
Coming into Saturday’s sectional championship contest, the Eagles had given up just nine goals all season. The team rode strong teamwork on both offense and defense to an undefeated 23-0-0 record coming into Saturday’s matchup and a No. 1 ranking among Division 4 teams in the most recent Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association poll.
The team beat last year’s co-CLC champion and state qualifier Oostburg in the regular season after surviving a double-overtime marathon, and beat Oostburg again earlier this week in a sectional semifinal.
“We were really anticipating a closely fought game,” University School coach Jock Mustchler said. “Obviously, Sheboygan being undefeated … presented a formidable challenge.
“(Schlenker is) our top goal-scorer and he just has put the team on his back for the latter part of the season,” Mustchler said of the senior captain who landed his team’s winning goal. “And we really count on him to, in closely contested matches like this, to come through.”
The Wildcats, who were ranked fourth in Division 4 in the last WSCA poll, controlled the ball for much of the game, but never managed to put the ball into the Eagles’ net.
“It was frustrating,” Mustchler said of trying to score against the lanky Windsor, whose leaping saves kept the Wildcats’ offense at bay for most of the game.
“We don’t call him the Yeti for nothing,” Phillips said, referring to his starting goalkeeper’s nickname.
“I tell you, Eddie has an extreme amount of potential,” Phillips said. “He’s a very, very athletic goalie and he understands the game and loves to play, and I think he will return next year and have a great season.”
Besides Windsor, the Eagles look to return much of their talent next season. The team will graduate only six seniors this year.
“I think that we have the potential to really kind of reload and do well,” Phillips said. “You know, duplicating what we did this year is kind of hard. It was a magical season, and our expectations for the boys at the beginning of the season was to do well. … They’re just a real special group of young men, and I couldn’t be more proud of ’em.”