MILWAUKEE — Oregon junior goalkeeper Duncan Morgan acted a little surprised Thursday afternoon when told he had been the focal point of the Panthers’ game plan for their WIAA Division 2 state boys soccer semifinal against Waukesha West.
Coach Kevin May had a pretty good idea that the powerful Wolverines would control play in the midfield, and that the Panthers would have to ride the hot hand of Morgan to pull off the upset.
And that’s exactly what happened. West put Morgan under siege, but he held up as the Panthers advanced to Saturday’s state final beating West in a penalty-kicks shootout, 4-3.
Morgan made 15 saves, finishing just one shy of the single-game Division 2 tournament record, as the teams played to a 2-2 tie through 90 minutes of regulation play and 20 minutes of overtime despite West (18-2-2) holding a 40-6 advantage in shots over the Panthers (16-4-4).
“I really wasn’t aware of that. I was just trying to do my best and keep the team in the game,” Morgan said of his coaches’ plan, which paved the way for the Panthers to take on nationally second-ranked Whitefish Bay (24-0) in the state final at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Despite his near record-setting performance, May replaced Morgan in goal with senior Shane Sullivan for the shootout. Oregon made all four of the penalty kicks it needed — and West failed to convert its final two tries after making the first three.
The result? Oregon’s first state final berth since its championship year of 2013.
The Wolverines (18-2-2) held a 13-3 advantage on corner kicks, and Wolverines’ keeper Carlos Arroyo didn’t have any saves.
“We just rode Duncan for the playoffs. He’s just been so solid for us,” May said.
“We anticipated West to control possession. We needed to take advantage of what opportunities we could get in the transition and counter-attacks, because that is just a tremendous team we beat today. … We just had to hang on.”
Oregon was outshot 15-1 in the first half as Morgan made seven saves, several under duress.
“I know the coaches have faith in me, but I really didn’t see that as pressure,” Morgan said.
Yet the Panthers made their one shot count, as junior midfielder Carter Hendrickson gained control along the West end line late in the first half and chipped a pass into the front near corner of the net, where junior Zach Pasley headed the ball into the far corner for a 1-0 lead at 37:14.
That lead stood until 58:28 of the second half, when West senior defender Erich Vaughan took a quick pass and blasted a bomb into the far left corner from 25 yards to tie the score.
In overtime, Oregon took advantage of a counter-attack as junior midfielder Nick Borden came tearing down the right side and laid the ball perfectly at the feet of Pasley, who flicked it hard into the net just 2:40 into the first OT for a 2-1 lead.
But junior midfielder Aric Booth gathered in a quick deflection and rocketed in a shot from 20 yards at the 4:37 mark of the second OT.
For the first six rounds of the shootout, neither side’s keeper had a chance at making a save, as both West and Oregon players all hit their shots expertly for a 3-3 tie. But the fourth Wolverines kicker chipped his shot high and wide, and then Panthers’ junior midfielder Ian Moran knocked in his ball for a 4-3 lead.
When Sullivan made his one and only save on the next West shot, Oregon was in the final.
Oregon 1 0 1 0 — 2
Waukesha West 0 1 0 1 — 2
(Oregon wins on penalty kicks, 4-3)
First half — Or: Pasley (Hendrickson), 37:14. Second half — WW: Vaughan, 58:28. Overtime — Or, Pasley (Borden), 92:40; WW: Booth, 104:37.
Penalty kicks — WW: Durand good; Standarski good; M. Bruggink good; S. Bruggink miss; Donini miss. Or: McCombs good; Bjerke good; Podnar good; Moran good.
Shots — Or 1-4-1-0-6 (Pasley 2); WW 15-19-3-3-40 (Standarski 8, S. Bruggink 7, Harenda 6, Vaughan 5, M. Bruggink 3, Durand 3, Donini 3, Booth 2, Legut 2). Saves — Or (Morgan 17, Sullivan 0) 7-6-3-1-17; WW (Arroyo 0) 0-0-0-0-0. Corner kicks — Or 1-1-1-0-3; WW 5-8-0-0-13. Offside — Or 1, WW 1. Yellow card — Or, Legler.
Whitefish Bay 5, New Richmond 0
The two-time defending Division 2 champion Blue Dukes, ranked second in the nation by USA Today, held a 37-5 shots margin and did not allow a corner kick, taking a 3-0 halftime lead on the way past the Tigers (18-8-1).
New Richmond 0 0 — 0
Whitefish Bay 3 2 — 5
First half — WB: Kortebein (Carini), 11:56; M. Comiskey (Dryden), 20:29; Dryden (Zebell), 30:21. Second half — J. Haddock, 73:07; Dryden, 73:55.
Shots — NR 2-3-5 (Blattner 3, A. Johnson 2); WB 19-18-37 (M. Comiskey 12, Dryden 9, Kortebein 3, Nelson 2, J. Haddock 2, Baniukiewicz 2). Shots on goal — NR 2; WB 12. Saves — NR (Getschel 6, Landt 1) 5-2-7; WB (E. Haddock) 1-1-2. Corner kicks — NR 0-0-0; WB 6-6-12. Offside — NR 0-0-0; WB 1-2-3.