Veteran Cedarburg boys soccer coach Pat Sorensen knew his short-handed team was going to have hit on all cylinders if it wanted to knock off North Shore Conference rival and defending D2 state champion Whitefish Bay in the WIAA sectional final at Waukesha North on Oct. 29.
But instead, it was their fast-moving, relentless opponents that were in high-octane mode, as the Blue Dukes, masters of the set piece, took a 2-0 lead at half, kept pressure on the goal despite injuries in their own ranks and cruised to a remarkably easy 4-0 win over the second-ranked Bulldogs.
"I thought we played really well for about the first 15-20 minutes," Sorensen said. "We were trying to buy time because we were short two all-conference players (including forward/midfielder Eric Peterson). But we were talking before the game, those guys have amazing depth, spectacular depth. So for us to go into something like that two guys down, we knew it would be a battle."
The Bulldogs, who defeated Oshkosh North, 3-1, in the sectional semifinal on Oct. 27, finished at 13-3-3. Two of their three losses this season were to Bay. Bay also defeated Cedarburg in the D2 state title game last season. Meanwhile, Bay (20-2-1) advances to the WIAA state tournament at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee, Nov. 3-5.
Cedarburg actually got the first shot on goal in the Bay game, but following that, opportunities were few and far between, as the Blue Dukes, using their depth and their speed, kept relentless pressure on the Bulldogs, creating numerous opportunities including many corner kicks.
A penalty kick in the 26th minute put the Blue Dukes up to stay, and then a deftly slotted free kick was headed home in the 34th minute.
One of Bay's top forwards went down in the 49th minute with a leg injury, but Bay just kept pushing, scoring two second-half goals off corner kicks assisted by junior Matt Comiskey.
In short, it was a very frustrating way to end the season, Sorensen said.
"When you go down early to a team of that caliber, it gets difficult," he said. "They're on their front foot and attacking. We just didn't have the firepower to deal with their depth."
In the semifinal against one-loss North, the Bulldogs went up 3-0 and then coasted home. Senior forward Noal Baldwin had a hat-trick, while senior midfielder Jared Short had an assist.
Seniors for Cedarburg included Bobby O'Neil, Baldwin, Andrew Kuborn, Ian McConeghy, Michael Slavin, Sam Galaszewski, Nathan Mierow, Short, Max Ruzicka and Grant Roloff.
"I was very proud of our season," Sorensen said. "We weren't 100 percent at the end, but that's the way things happen sometimes."