KEWASKUM — The second-seeded Waunakee boys soccer team, with a strong wind at its back in the first half, hoped to take command early in Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state semifinal.
But it was third-seeded De Pere that broke through first on senior forward Andrew Yang’s goal 12 minutes, 49 seconds into the match during the alternate fall season state tournament at Kewaskum High School.
That proved to be the winner, as Waunakee couldn’t deliver the equalizer in the 1-0 result.
“At the coin toss, we wanted to have the wind at our back in the first half and try to get an early goal and dictate from there,” Waunakee senior midfielder Zach Tiemeyer said. “But, obviously, that’s not how it went.”
It was the Warriors’ second trip to state and first since winning the Division 2 title in 1999.
“It was our first state semifinal in 20 years, so we felt a bit of pressure toward this game,” said Waunakee senior midfielder and Milwaukee School of Engineering soccer commit Nathan Dresen, who believed the Warriors should have taken more advantage of the wind in the first half. “Maybe we didn’t come out on a strong foot and we gave up an early goal. … But we played stronger once we got settled into the game.”
It wasn’t the desired outcome, but Tiemeyer relished the moment, nonetheless.
“It was awesome,” said Tiemeyer, who plans to attend UW-Superior and play soccer. “We went from not even thinking we’d have a season because of COVID to making it to state. I went to first grade with some of these guys so it was awesome to go to this with them and wrap it up like this with them.”
Waunakee coach Dave Kettner liked the way Waunakee bounced back facing the early deficit.
“The nice thing is the team didn’t panic,” Kettner said. “We went down a goal and everyone maintained their composure. We knew it wasn’t insurmountable, but let’s give it to De Pere. They played a good game and we threw a lot at them and they were able to deflect it out of the way. So, kudos to them.”
De Pere improved to 12-1-3 with its ninth consecutive victory and advanced to Saturday night’s final against top-seeded Appleton North. Waunakee finished 12-2-2.
The only goal came when the Redbirds redirected a kick toward the goal and Warriors goalkeeper Joey Fuhremann, a 6-foot-8 junior, came out and deflected the ball, which bounced to his right. But Yang corralled the rebound on the left wing and scored.
“It went right to the opposing team,” said Fuhremann, credited with four saves overall. “Bad bounces happen. But we bounced back really well from that.”
Said Kettner: “I’m looking forward to actually watching this match (again) because it was a good game, through and through.
“It just so happened that they got their first goal and it was an unfortunate bounce for us and a lucky bounce for them. Joey made a great save. It just went to the wrong person at the wrong time for us.”
The Warriors had seven of their nine corner kicks in the first half and had one of their better opportunities off a corner kick at 19:44. But Redbirds senior goalie Jack Rosner made the save on Waunakee junior Calvin Rahn’s shot off the corner.
“We had a great chance on the corner in that first half,” Kettner said. “The goalie just made a crazy save.”
De Pere had a chance to take a 2-0 lead, but junior Kevin Ramirez’s shot hit the crossbar at the 40:22 mark.
“I think our team did well,” Waunakee senior forward Mason Lee said. “We rallied toward the end. We just couldn’t get it done. Their early goal kind of crushed our spirits a bit, but we bounced back. It was just tough to complete it and get a goal.”
Despite the defeat, Lee was grateful for the alternate season opportunity.
“It’s really special to get to play this spring with everything that happened in the fall,” Lee said. “This is a great group of guys and I’m really proud to be with them. This is the second time we went to state since 1999 so it was really awesome. I’m really proud of this team.”
Appleton North 7, Racine Horlick 0
Senior forward Nick Milani scored two goals, leading top-seeded Appleton North to a 7-0 victory over fourth-seeded Racine Horlick in the first semifinal.
The Lightning opened a 3-0 lead by halftime, then pulled away in the second half.
The Lightning improved to 13-0-1 and advanced to the title match, while the Rebels finished 10-2-2.
Appleton North 1, De Pere 0
Appleton North’s Simon Zulewski sent a rebound to the right post at 14:25 of the first half, and the Lightning’s defense made that stand up for a victory in the Division 1 state final. North outshot the Redbirds, 19-7, and North goalkeeper Dave Neitzke-Pizzaro made five saves for a shutout win and North’s first state soccer title.
DE PERE 1, WAUNAKEE 0
De Pere*1*0* —*1
First half — DP: Yang, 12:49.
Shots on goal: DP 5 (Yang 1, Ramirez 1, Johnson 1, Bey 1, Seefeldt 1); W 4 (Lee 1, Storch 1, Rahn 1, Lavold 1). Saves: DP (Rosner) 4; W (Fuhremann) 4. Corner kicks: DP 6, W 9. Offsides: DP 5; W 0. Fouls: DP 6; W 12. Yellow cards: DP 2; W 3. Record: W 12-2-2.