The team that’s proved unstoppable all year kept cruising unabated through the postseason on Thursday.
The state’s top-ranked Division 4 boys soccer team hoisted its first regional championship since combining into a co-op program last season after red-hot Sheboygan Christian/Lutheran outpaced Kohler 2-0 on Thursday.
Jake Stecker and Jonathan Veldhorst scored goals for the Eagles (22-0), who have yet to give up a goal in the playoffs so far this year; they beat first-round opponent Random Lake 3-0 in a first-round game earlier this week.
The win puts Christian/Lutheran a game deeper into the playoffs than the team got last year, when the newly formed co-op lost in a regional championship contest to top-seeded Sturgeon Bay in the Division 3 bracket. The Eagles dropped down a division after the WIAA expanded its boys soccer postseason to four divisions this year.
The Eagles have carried about as much momentum as anyone into this year’s postseason after cruising undefeated through the regular season and earning the Central Lakeshore Conference championship.
They’ll play last year’s co-CLC champion and defending state qualifier Oostburg in a sectional semifinal next Thursday.
Oostburg 5, Howards Grove 1
Lukas Meerdink scored twice in the first half and Kyle Ebbers, Michael Meke and Jake Swihart all scored a goal apiece in the second to push the Flying Dutchmen to their second straight regional championship.
Fresh off its first trip to the state tournament last year since 1994, Oostburg (17-7-1) has capitalized on last season’s leftover momentum to cruise into a sectional semifinal for the second year in a row, where the team will face a tough, still-undefeated Sheboygan Christian/Lutheran team.
Howards Grove (13-21) scored first on a goal by Dakota Rabe. But Oostburg’s defense clamped down after that, allowing just two more shots on goal — both defended by keeper Michael Duenk.
Meerdink scored the tying goal around the 16th minute, and put Oostburg ahead about eight minutes later. The team’s last three goals came in quick succession, between about the 53rd and 64th minutes.
DIVISION 3 N. Hols./E. Lake 3, Luxemburg-Casco 1
Joe Baldwin scored twice in the first half — including a game-opening goal in just the sixth minute — and Mike Pasineau added an insurance goal in the 45th minute to help New Holstein/Elkhart Lake advance the deepest into the playoffs since the schools formed a co-op last year.
New Holstein won its first regional championship since joining forces with nearby Elkhart. The co-op bowed out in the first round last season.
“I am very proud of how we played today,” Huskies coach Nate Laabs said. “It has been a few years since New Holstein boys have won a regional championship, and we played determined to break that string.”
“Our seniors led the way tonight with their determination, and junior Joe Baldwin really stepped up to give us the first half lead,” Laabs added.
The Huskies (15-7-2) outshot Luxemburg-Casco 17-12. Goalkeeper Stephan Clemens made four saves in New Holstein’s net.
New Holstein/Elkhart Lake faces Notre Dame, which advanced to sectionals after posting a 2-0 win over Wrightstown Thursday night.
Pewaukee 3, Plymouth 1
The Panthers dropped their regional championship match against the state’s top-ranked Division 3 team.
Stats from the game weren’t immediately available Thursday.
Grafton 2, Sheboygan Falls 1
The Falcons hung around with the state’s third-ranked Division 3 boys soccer team, but couldn’t escape with the upset win.
Stats from the game weren’t immediately available.