MILWAUKEE – McFarland girls soccer coach T.J. DiPrizio had a halftime message for his team Friday night.
The Spartans proved to be attentive listeners.
“I said, `It’s 45 minutes for everything you have got. Leave it all out on the field. There are no more games,’’’ DiPrizio said. “I said, `Let’s go out there and get a quick goal, take care of business right away and things will start happening.’ And that’s what they did.”
Junior forward Greta Blau’s rapid-fire goal — 25 seconds into the second half — broke a 1-1 tie and began a dominating second-half performance that carried undefeated McFarland to its first WIAA girls soccer championship.
McFarland scored four unanswered goals, including three in the second half, and defeated previously undefeated Plymouth 4-1 in the WIAA Division 3 girls soccer state championship at Uihlein Soccer Park’s KOHLER Engines Stadium.
“We just had a pep talk: `Who wants it more?’ ’’ Blau said. “We went out and showed that we wanted it more. Honestly, (the goal) happened so fast, I don’t remember (what occurred).”
Close friends Blau and Sydney Feldner, a senior forward, were a dynamic combination all night for McFarland (16-0-0), top-ranked in the state coaches’ poll but seeded second in the state tournament.
Blau scored the go-ahead goal and had an assist and Edgewood College commit Feldner scored twice and added an assist.
“We’ve been dreaming of this moment from the day we stepped out to practice the first time this year,” Feldner said. “We didn’t have a season last year (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), and I’m a senior, and we’ve all just been playing with each other for a while and this has been a dream. And we made it come true tonight.”
Said DiPrizio: “It feels awesome.”
The Spartans pulled away from top-seeded and third-ranked Plymouth (18-1-0) after withstanding a run by Panthers senior Maggie Munson into the box, with Spartans junior defender Elise Gillen thwarting Munson’s shot attempt in the 67th minute.
Feldner then gave the Spartans a 3-1 lead when she scored her second goal of the match and third of the day at 72:30. Feldner, who scored in Rock Valley Conference champion McFarland’s semifinal victory over New Berlin Eisenhower on Friday afternoon, moved across the middle of the field to her right and blasted a shot from about 20 yards into the right corner.
“We were really motivated after the halftime pep talk,” Feldner said.
Sophomore forward Sierra Binger’s goal increased the Spartans’ lead to 4-1 at 76:24. East Central Conference champion Plymouth, which was seeking its first state title, had only permitted four goals all season, entering the title match.
“We made it our goal from the start of the season,” Blau said of winning a state title. “We all agreed, `We want to go to state, we want to win state because we know we can.’ We haven’t been here (at state) since 2008, so I think it’s pretty cool.”
Panthers senior forward Addie Plate opened the scoring with a goal at 29 minutes, 42 seconds – piercing the interior of the Spartans’ defense with a run and driving a shot past diving senior goalkeeper Katie Hildebrandt, who made three saves overall. It was Plate’s 27th goal this season and second of the day, after she scored in Plymouth’s semifinal victory over Ashland.
Feldner answered with a goal at 38:16. The speedy Feldner, running on the left side, took a pass from Blau and used her left foot to angle a shot into the right side netting.
McFarland junior forward Avery Pennekamp, who aggravated a right ankle injury and went out during the fifth minute of the Spartans’ semifinal victory over Eisenhower, started in the title game. She left the first game in a walking boot, but iced between games and had her ankle taped.
The 5-foot-11 Pennekamp had the first good scoring opportunity in the 18th minute. She broke through the defense, only to see her shot ricochet off the left post. She then collected the rebound, but Plymouth senior goalkeeper Tess Huhn made a diving save.
Pennekamp didn’t start the second half, but did re-enter the match.
McFarland had nine shots, including three on goal, in the first half. Plymouth totaled two shots, both on goal, in the first 45 minutes.
This was McFarland's fourth state trip and most recent since 2008, when DiPrizio was an assistant for the team.
The Spartans finished second in 2007 in Division 2. McFarland defeated Appleton Xavier 1-0 in the semifinal, before falling to Waukesha Catholic Memorial in 4-1 in the final in 2007.
The McFarland girls soccer program’s success followed the McFarland boys soccer team winning the Division 2 state title in the WIAA’s alternate fall season this spring.
Plymouth made its second state appearance and its first since 2000.
McFarland blanked third-seeded and second-ranked New Berlin Eisenhower 2-0 in a semifinal earlier Friday.
Plymouth edged fourth-seeded and fifth-ranked Ashland 2-1 in the other semifinal.