After earning a No. 3 seed in the WIAA Playoffs, the Waunakee boys’ soccer team got to work this week, dispatching their first two opponents to win their Regional. First up for the Warriors was Burlington on Tuesday.
Burlington got their first shot on goal in the 21st minute, which Nick Ohm easily corralled. Midway through the half, Brennen Miller advanced up the middle and hit Jacob Mouille on a breakaway. Mouille blasted it in for goal number two. Waunakee continued the pressure as Mais located Sam Acker on the right side. Acker drove in and powered one off the goalie, the post, and in to put the Warriors up 3-0.
Waunakee used the whole half as Mouille advanced to the end line and crossed to James Bradley in front of the goal, who found the back of the net with three seconds left in the half, and the Warriors took a 4-0 lead into halftime.
With a comfortable lead, Waunakee took the foot off the gas in the second half. They did, however, still control nearly all of the possession. They continued to put numerous shots at, over, and around the goal.
Late in the game, Brennen Miller found Cameron Hayko, who finished for a 5-0 lead. The Warriors had one last chance as Carson Ejzak struck a shot at Burlington’s goalie, but the keeper made a nice save to keep the score at 5-0.
With win number one in the postseason in their rearview mirror, the Warriors then hosted Sauk Prairie on Saturday afternoon, with the victor moving onto Sectionals.
Sauk Prairie 0
The game against the Eagles was played under extremely windy conditions, and the wind made it difficult for both teams to control the ball.
The teams exchanged free and corner kicks as they settled into the action. Waunakee earned a free kick in the 32nd minute. Hudson Miller quickly tapped it to Ejzak, who drove in and hit Brennen Miller in the middle. He then blasted a low shot through traffic to give Waunakee a 1-0 lead.
Sauk used their remaining time with the wind to put heavy pressure on the Warriors. Minutes after the Warriors goal, Sauk had a breakaway. Sullivan Schwitters made an incredible save, fully extending his right leg to clear the ball out. Schwitters made two more great saves to keep the Eagles off the board in the first half.
After swapping sides of the field, he Warriors now were with the wind in the second half. It didn’t seem to help as Sauk dominated the opening minutes. Three minutes in, Sauk earned a penalty kick; the Warriors were called for a penalty in the box. Disaster turned to elation as Schwitters made a game-saving block. Breathing a sigh of relief, Waunakee settled in to protect their lead. Both teams had numerous free and corner kicks, but either team could capitalize as Schwitters continued his stellar work in goal.
Waunakee had several more chances, but the Sauk Prairie goalie proved tough to beat. Mouille, Cole Kettner, Laack, and Nathan Dresen all had shots, but none got past the Eagles’ goalkeeper.
The early goal proved to be the game-winner against a tough Sauk team, as the Warriors earned a hard-fought 1-0 win for the Regional title. It was another great team effort highlighted by a MVP effort in goal by Schwitters.
Next up, the Warriors travel to Elkhorn Thursday. Elkhorn entered the postseason ranked sixth in Division 2 by the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association, while the Warriors were ranked 10th. With a win, Waunakee would move on to face the winner of the Oregon and Monona Grove contest on Saturday at 1 p.m., also in Elkhorn, for the right to advance to State.