MILWAUKEE — If the Oregon boys soccer team had any hopes of pulling an “Impossible Dream” type of upset in Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 state championship game, those hopes were dashed early.
Whitefish Bay senior Matthew Comiskey scored just 30 seconds into the game, and then he added a second goal on a 35-yard free kick just six minutes later.
The goals were part of a 22-minute, four-goal barrage that vaulted the Blue Dukes past the Panthers, 6-1, to capture their third consecutive WIAA Division 2 state title at Uihlein Soccer Park.
“We just came out timid and we came out unorganized and we did not have our bearings straight for 45 minutes,” Oregon coach Kevin May said. “And that’s what happens in a half against a powerhouse of a team when you come out like that.”
Comiskey’s 43rd and 44th goals of the season gave Whitefish Bay (25-0) a 2-0 lead. And the Blue Dukes — ranked second in the nation by USA Today — seemed to continue score at will in the first half. All six of Whitefish Bay’s goals came in the first 41 minutes of play.
The Blue Dukes asserted their superiority from the opening kickoff, moving the ball down the right side with a series of tight passes. Evan Kortebein centered to Comiskey, who settled the ball, turned and fired with his left foot from about 15 yards out on the right post. Oregon junior goalkeeper Duncan Morgan never had a chance, as the ball clipped the inside of the post.
Just like that, the Panthers were behind before they had even possessed the ball.
“A lot of times we will ping it around in the back, but today we said, ‘If we get the kickoff, we want to go right down their throat.’ And that’s what we did,” Whitefish Bay coach Rob Dubinski said.
Six minutes later, the Blue Dukes received a free kick on the right side from 35 yards out. Comiskey sent the ball on a line toward the left post. Players in the box moved toward the ball, but no one actually touched it. Two bounces later, it was in the net — with Morgan anticipating a change of direction that never came.
“When you have guys in the box and it’s slick like this, you try to aim at the back post and hope somebody flicks it in,” Comiskey said. “A lot of times the goalie is confused and he guesses someone is going to hit it. It snuck in at the back post, and that was awesome.”
Things turned progressively worse, with goals by junior Jimmy Zebell and seniors Mario Carini, Drew Nelson and Jeremy Haddock pushing the lead to 6-0.
“We didn’t start well; they scored a goal and snapped into it, and we didn’t get going,” said defender Collin Legler, one of the Panthers’ senior leaders. “They kept piling the goals on and we got our heads down. We just couldn’t get anything going in the first half.”
When the half arrived, May set a simple goal for his Panthers (17-5-3).
“We need to win the second half,” May said. “Our goal was to win the second half.”
The Panthers did just that. They stymied the Whitefish Bay attack and tallied their own counter on Johnny Auer’s goal in the 63rd minute.
While the overall result Saturday was a downer, May will carry the memories of a winning second half and an overall terrific season. Saturday's loss was the second in the last 19 games for the Badger South Conference runners-up.
“We are tremendously proud of this group,” May said. “To go through a couple tough losses this season and bounce back, group together for the playoffs and make an awesome run. … I could not be happier with what this group has done this season.”
First half: WB — Comiskey (Kortebein), 0:30; Comiskey, 6:37; Zebell (Haddock), 19:46; Carini (Zebell), 21:31; Nelson (ck), 36:53; Haddock (Comiskey), 40:31.
Second half: Or — Auer, 62:27.
Shots — Or (4): Borden, Auer, Weiland, Bennett; WB (23): J. Haddock 6, Comiskey 6, Carini 3, Dryden 2, Rojas 2, Zebell 1, Kortebein 1, Azcueta 1, Nelson 1. Shots on goal — Or (2): Auer, Borden; WB (8): Comiskey 2, Carini 2, Nelson, Haddock, Dryden, Zebell. Saves — WB (E. Haddock) 1; O (Morgan 1, Sullivan 1) 2. Corner kicks — Or 1; WB 13. Yellow cards — Or (1): Moran; WB (2): Dryden, Azcueta.