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Whitefish Bay girls soccer team beats Homestead to win NSC title

May 27, 2014

The Whitefish Bay girls soccer team didn't want to talk about winning the North Shore Conference title with a 7-0 record,

They didn't want to talk about their 11-game winning streak or their sparkling 16-2-3 record or their number one ranking in the state or the fact that they will be the number one seed in their WIAA D2 sectional bracket.

No, all the Blue Dukes wanted to talk about after beating Homestead, 2-0, to clinch the North Shore title Tuesday night was their blue good luck hair scrunchies,

"They're our superstition," said senior midfielder Caroline Fink, who scored the second clinching goal in the first half. "We decided to all get them. We don't know if they helped us go 7-0 in the conference but they definitely didn't hurt."

Then she pointed to the likely real reasons that the Blue Dukes won the league title this spring for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

"It's amazing," she said. "We have a great group of people out here with great chemistry and the best coaches ever. We work as hard as we can and keep things one game, one day at a time."

Right now, the Blue Dukes could use a few days off plus a little good luck, because for all their success, they're a little nicked up right now, as all-everything defender Erin Corrigan suffered an ankle injury in the first 10 minutes of the game and did not return.

"We're a little banged up," admitted coach Robert Williams, "but this feels good right now. This team is fantastic. We lose our heart and soul in Erin (Corrigan) but when she goes down the kids come right back and fight and believe.

"And it wasn't so much that we won on their field, it was about setting goals. We wanted them to believe in themselves. Tell them that they could do something like this if they only believed in themselves."

The Blue Dukes will be off until WIAA regional play begins on Thursday, June 5 and Homestead will close its regular season at Muskego on Thuirsday, May 29.

For veteran Homestead coach Rich Dorn, with 10 sophomores on his roster, he didn't view it so much as a lost opportunity at a conference title, but more as a learning experience.

"I appreciate the big picture aspect of all this," he said. "We made major strides from last year. We played for 80 minutes, which was significant for us. We've occasionally gone only 40 minutes in games this season. ...but tonight we went toe-to-toe with a great team. We were great competitors tonight.

"A step in the right direction."

The Highlanders finished in a tie for second in the North Shore at 5-2 and are 11-5-2 overall. They had started the North Shore season at 5-0 before closing with tough loses to Germantown and Bay.

And this one was tough to take for Homestead, as the game went back and forth for the first 20 minutes or so on a cool and soggy Homestead field.

But the Blue Dukes made a push and got a free kick out of senior defender Cassidy Blanchard. The ball was knocked around in the box and eventually led to a corner kick.

Where as she has done many times this season, senior midfielder Leah Rothstein laid the ball perfectly into the right third of the box, where out of three potential finishers, Clare Matkom headed it in perfectly for the lead goal at the 23:08 mark.

"Leah hits corner kicks like no one I have ever seen,"said Williams. "It was perfect."

Dorn saw it a little differently.

"We unfortunately gave up a cheapie there as our marking was non-existent," he said.

There was nothing cheap about the insurance goal that came just over six minutes later when Fink saw an opening  from about 25 yards out on the left side and pounded one home for a 2-0 lead at the 31:23 mark.

"Sometimes Caroline is a little too selfless when she has the ball," said Williams. "Too generous. We need her to be (Michael) Jordan sometimes, not Magic (Johnson)."

He was laughing when he said that but was absolutely serious about Fink's talent.

The lead held up throughout the second half though Homestead did pick up the tempo. The Highlanders put more pressure on Blue Duke goalie Amanda Pandl but couldn't really put a serious charge into the ball or find that critical opening.

"Right now, we just need someone to take on that mentality of saying 'I'll be the one (to finish),'" Dorn said. "We need to go from visualizing (what we can do) to finishing in the attacking third. We've got to have that killer instinct.

"...They (the Blue Dukes) were tough and primed to shut us off. It's the precision of the passing that separates you at the upper end and Bay is one of the best there is out there at that."

And the Blue Dukes have the title to prove it.

"This feels pretty awesome," said Rothstein. "We definitely wanted to do this for Erin (Corrigan) tonight. She gave us some added motivation. We do have some big goals, like state, but we're going to look at this one game at a time."

In Dorn's eyes, the Blue Dukes earned this title.

"We needed to reach a certain point to give ourselves a chance in a game like this," he said, "and Bay is a real measuring stick in terms of their overall quality and in the quality of the opponents they've beaten."

Not to mention the quality of the character within the team.

"We're totally supportive of one another on this team," said Fink. "When people go down, others come off the bench and get the job done."

 

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