The road that the top-ranked in state D2 polls Whitefish Bay girls soccer team has to take to get to the WIAA state tournament and earn a state championship is a mountain climb of Mount Everest proportions.
“To be the best, you have to beat the best, be it regional, sectional or state,” said Blue Duke coach Rob Dubinski after the team’s methodical 4-0 sectional semifinal victory over Slinger on a beautiful Thursday night in Bay.
That’s because the Blue Dukes will definitely have to beat the best to win this title.
They will now head up to UW-Oshkosh’s Titan Stadium at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 10 for the sectional final against the winner of second-ranked in state Green Bay Notre Dame and third-ranked Cedarburg.
That particular sectional semifinal was postponed until 4 p.m. Friday, June 9 because of bad weather on Thursday night. The game was tied 1-1 at the half.
“We’re sort of hoping they go double overtime, maybe even a shoot-out,” chuckled Dubinski. “Get them nice and tired.”
Bay will be seeking its second state tourney berth in three years. The North Shore Conference champion Blue Dukes played to a scoreless tie with their league rivals Cedarburg back on May 25.
If the Blue Dukes (19-1-2) survive the sectional final, the road to the state title gets even tougher, as they will likely have to meet defending state runner-up and fourth-ranked in state Oregon in the state semifinals on June 16 at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
Bay has not won a state title since it claimed the last of three in a row in 2000.
“It’s always tough to play the best teams just to get to state,” said Dubinski, “but in the end, the goals have been the same since the beginning of the year. We want four pieces of hardware. The conference, regional, sectional and state titles.
“We got the first two, now we have to go out and earn the last two.”
Senior forward Taylor Kerwin, who scored three goals in the win against Slinger, said the team is ready for the challenges ahead.
“I like how intense we are,” she said, “especially for the goal we’re working for. We’re going to do it the old-fashioned way, one game at a time.”
Dubinski really liked that kind of approach against Slinger.
“For one of the first times this season we played a full 90 minutes,” he said. “4-0 was a good result considering how many times we hit the crossbar (at least four times).”
It took Bay a little while to get rolling, but the Blue Dukes finally broke through at the 19:16 mark of the first half as Kerwin poked in a shot from the left side.
Another another pair of shots banged off the crossbar, junior midfielder Ali Menard blasted a shot in from about 35 yards out to the far left-hand corner at the 34:13 mark to make it 2-0 at the break.
Bay continued to put pressure on in the second half and clinched the game with two scores in the first 12 minutes of the session.
Kerwin picked up a ball off a scrum in front of the right side of the Owls’ net and then slipped it past the goalie for a 3-0 advantage at the 49:39 point and then she scored the final goal of the game at the 57:33 mark on a point blank shot off a nice give-and-go feed from Menard on the left side.
It was not the first hat trick of the season for the seemingly “always-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time ” Kerwin, who was a key part of the Blue Dukes’ dominant offensive effort.
“We were focusing on controlling overall possession this game,” she said, “and I think that was a real plus in our favor.”
Senior co-captain Sam Loyda and Kerwin also had assists in this game. Junior keeper Grace James was very un-busy this game with only two saves and very little overall pressure.
“We did a good job of using high pressure (starting in the midfield) and then getting the ball out wide,” said Dubinski.
The Blue Dukes will look to maintain this high-level of play as they continue to carve their difficult path to Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee on June 16.
“We’re just focusing on the big goal,” said Kerwin.