In the second half and throughout the first overtime of their powerhouse nonconference game on May 16, the Whitefish Bay girls soccer team had several great chances against top-ranked in state D1 DSHA.
A shot was tipped away at the very last second by Dasher goalie Olivia Myszewski in the first overtime, and Bay even had a good look early in the second overtime, when Myszewski got caught out of position and a Bay player had a point blank shot only to have it knocked away by a fast moving defender.
Nothing would go in, it seemed.
Nothing would go in, that is, until senior midfielder Leah Rothstein stepped to the left-side corner kick spot midway through the second OT and deftly knocked a high, looping shot toward the far upper right corner of the goal. Myszewski got her fingertips on it, but the ball slid just inside the post and down for the only goal in an important 1-0 victory.
"It was a tough game," said Rothstein. "We had a lot of shots. We just knew that eventually one of them had to go in. It felt good (when I kicked it)."
The victory also sent Bay Coach Robert Williams off to his late-night fish fry, which he had been hankering for since midway through the second half.
Williams loves his team, but he was frequently frustrated with his Blue Dukes inability to create solid chances this night. "We're about as offensive as a bunch of gnats!" he could be heard exclaiming at one point in the second half, when another opportunity manifested itself and then just as quickly vanished.
"I really thought we were going in for a 0-0 tie," he said, "because both teams had trouble getting off good shots, but this is a good win. If somebody had told me with the stretch of games we've been in, with the competition that we've faced, that we'd be 12-2-3, I would have taken it in a heartbeat."
Bay had entered the game ranked second in state D2 polls, and the win was its seventh in a row. Meanwhile, DSHA fell to 11-3-1. It was the Dashers first loss to an in-state school and spoiled their senior night.
The schedule will remain a challenge to the Blue Dukes as they look to stay unbeaten in North Shore Conference play when they visit Port Washington on Tuesday, May 20, and then will host top-ranked in state D2 polls Waukesha West on Thursday, May 22 at 7 p.m.
Just this last week, West knocked off previously unbeaten and top-ranked in state D3 polls Catholic Memorial.
So it's safe to say that the Blue Dukes are in with some heady company. They proved they were a match for the host Dashers on the Quad Park field on a chilly, 43-degree May 16 night. The first half was very even as neither side generated a really dangerous scoring chance.
In the second half, the tempo picked up as Rothstein had a long free-kick tick off the crossbar. Meanwhile, Blue Duke goalie Amanda Pandl didn't have to make a great many key saves, but she did make many alert plays, aggressively coming out of the box to poke away or gather in potential Dasher chances.
"She's just playing very well right now," said Williams of the junior keeper, "and Cassidy (senior defender Blanchard) is just a beast back there."
Williams was pleased with the overall intensity. Bay had knocked off another nonconference foe, Oregon, 1-0, the night before in an effort that wasn't really up to standard, he said. He thought the team may have been distracted by the potential of the DSHA contest.
"We came out flat in that game and played down (to the level of competition)," he said. "I think we were looking forward to this one, but I tried to tell the kids the game shouldn't be bigger than us. We play a grueling schedule, so we should enjoy a game like this."
"But man, we had to grind this one out."
Rothstein said it's fun to play a game of this intensity with a team as close as this one is.
"This was a big one for us," she said of DSHA. "They're always a rival for us. Always a tough game, always a good game. This season has been fun that way. This group, we consider ourselves a family with a lot of team bonding.
"It's a lot of fun winning this way."
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