Thirteen seniors, 13 distinct memories of a distressing WIAA sectional final loss in 2015 to Menomonee Falls that needed to be erased for the Homestead girls soccer team.
And they were, on a hot and humid June 11 afternoon in Cedarburg. Despite some remarkably bad luck with finding the crossbar on a regular basis, the Highlanders earned their first state tournament berth in six years with a 1-0 WIAA D2 sectional victory over Oshkosh North.
'There was a great sense of urgency,' said senior midfielder and co-captain Allie Haddad. 'A lot of competitive spirit after that final last year. No one wanted that feeling again.
'Thirteen seniors who all wanted to reach their full potential. It's always a challenge (getting to state), but we have so much potential and energy.'
The Highlanders (17-5-1) will look to expend all their energy and tap all of that potential when they take part in a WIAA D2 state semifinal against top-ranked Waukesha West (20-1-2) at 2 p.m. Friday, June 17, at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
This is Homestead's 10th trip to state and first since its runner-up finish in 2010.
For veteran coach Rich Dorn, this never gets old, as he knows the concept of urgency among big senior groups with high expectations very well.
'Every team in this position is motivated,' he said. 'It's heartbreaking to lose (in this situation) and exhilarating to win. There's a lot of psychology going on in a moment like this, especially because they're seniors and it's their last merry-go-round. Kids like these have invested a lot of effort, and they're not going to be denied.'
The other semifinal involves defending champion Oregon (16-3-4) versus Pulaski (17-4-1) with the state championship game slated for 3 p.m. Saturday, June 18, back at Uihlein.
Haddad and the rest of the Highlanders can't wait. She said she and her other co-captains, Lauren Padgett and Coco Wiencek, will have the team ready.
'We'll definitely be ready to play to our full potential and strength,' she said. 'I'll work with the midfielders, Lauren will work with the defenders and Coco will help out with the forwards. We'll take care of everyone; everyone will be where they're supposed to be, and that should give us a chance to beat them.'
The Highlanders had many chances to beat Oshkosh North in the sectional final, and fortunately the game winner came early at the four-minute mark.
'Alex (Lutz) made a really nice run and got in pretty deep (to the North end of the field),' Dorn said. 'She laid it off to Coco (Wiencek), who made a nice turn and hit it to the far pole.'
Dorn made note that Wiencek's shot was low because though the Highlanders would absolutely dominate play after that to the tune of a 31-6 shots on goal advantage, there was no insurance goal — nothing else found the back of the net.
But they were close many times, and many times the shots were high.
'Their keeper made about 10 good saves, but I think we're going to get a bill from Cedarburg for a new crossbar (on the goal) because we must have it at least eight times,' Dorn said. 'We never got that second goal, but hopefully we're saving them up for the next game.'
Haddad said it was important to get that only goal early.
'We talk about it before every game we want to get one (a goal) within the first 15 minutes, and when we execute and do it, it's very beneficial,' she said.
Though Homestead did dominate the game, North (12-5-4) was not without resources.
'In the last 10 minutes, they did mount a significant charge,' Dorn said, 'and Kelli (senior keeper Ausman) came up big on a couple of saves.'
Dorn said the team, which beat Cedarburg, 1-0, in the sectional semifinal on June 9, quickly put the North game behind them and started looking to the future.
'We told them we're heading to state so we don't have to worry about style points,' said Dorn. 'We got what we were playing for; we won the sectional ... now we're looking forward to the challenge.
'I definitely believe that we have a mental edge going in, that we have a chip on our shoulder. We're going to carry that going in because we believe no one is more motivated than us.'
WIAA STATE SOCCER TOURNEY
Uihlein Soccer Park, Milwaukee, June 16-18
Friday, June 17
Pulaski (17-4-1) vs. Oregon (16-3-4), noon
Homestead (17-5-1) vs. Waukesha West (20-1-2), 2 p.m.
Saturday, June 18
Championship game, 3 p.m.
TEAM NOTES:HOMESTEAD is a two-time champion of the North Shore Conference and will enter on a five game winning streak. Wiencek is the leading scorer with 21 goals while Lutz has nine and junior midfielder Brigid West six. WAUKESHA WESTwon the Classic 8 Conference and it's only loss was to Homestead's North Shore rival Whitefish Bay, which it beat 4-2, in the sectional final. All-state senior forward Dani Rhodes is a dominant player with 43 goals while senior forward nat Yass has 13 goals and 19 assists. OREGON is the defending D2 champion and won the Badger South Conference. Senior forward Jen Brien has 20 goals while senior forward Makenna Fanning has 15. Oregon dropped a close 3-2 decision to West earlier in the season. PULASKI finished fourth in the Fox River Classic but did not lose a nonconference game this spring. Senior forward Haley Vandenhouten has 27 goals while junior midfielder Brooke Schauer has 11 and sophomore forward Nicole Mooren 12.