Only when forward Joey Borris headed in midfielder Sean Garwood's perfect diagonal crossing pass into the far left corner of the net at the 79:45 mark of the second half against Germantown Tuesday night did Whitefish Bay boys soccer coach Jeff Worzella take a deep breath.
The goal gave the Blue Dukes a more comfortable 2-0 lead which was extended to 3-0 eight minutes later when the two teammates traded places, this time with Garwood scoring off of Borris' corner kick.
And so with the 3-0 victory, the defending North Shore Conference Blue Dukes opened up defense of their 2013 league championship on a positive note.
"Oh yeah," said Worzella of the importance of the second goal. "In a 1-0 game, amnything can happen, one mistake, one slip, and you're tied, especially against Germantown, which is a great team and which gave us a real battle. It was a physical game, but we were able to survive."
The victory improved the Blue Dukes to 3-0-1 on the season while the Warhawks fell to 1-2.
The final score was very deceiving, especially to first-year Warhawk coach Todd Fisher, whose team had very bad luck with the goal this night, hearing the dreaded pinging sound of a ball rebounding off a side post far too often.
"We had a lot of opportunities tonight," said Fisher. "We really left a lot of goals on the field."
Meanwhile, the Blue Dukes were able to take advantage of a fluke situation in the 13th minute to take the lead for good, as Bay forward Evan Conway took a long clearing ball just past midfield and raced downfield.
Germantown goalie Luke Fehrenbach aggressively came out to cut down the angle, but got too close to Conway. The ball deflected off of him and headed towards the goal. Conway quickly picked it up with no one in front of him and easily poked the ball into the net for one of the easiest goals anyone witnessing the game has ever seen.
"Our goalie was aggressive, maybe too aggressive," said Fisher, "and then it took an unlucky bounce."
But the goal did not faze the Warhawks, who spent most of the first half dominating play and putting a lot of pressure on Bay keeper Adin Chiappa (seven saves).
The Blue Dukes survived the threats and then finally were able to mount some consistent pressure starting early in the second half, at one point earning three corner kicks in a three-minute span.
"It kind of took us awhile to be able to break down their defense," said Worzella. "They did a good job with their high defensive line and frankly, we weren't doing a real good job in the offensive third."
Bay put a lot of pressure on Fehrenbach and it finally paid off with about 10 minutes to go. Germantown had a chance to clear the ball out of their end, but could not. Garwood got it and then looped the long diagonal pass that Borris headed in pertfectly to the far post.
"We did a better job of connecting passes in the second half,"said Worzella, "and then we were able to really put some pressure on therm."
"We lost possession and that set up the goal," said Fisher. "..."We had our chances, but they were pressing hard in the second half. Still, I thought we played well for stretches. I've been very pleased. For a new coach, with a new formation, the kids have been very receptive."
The state-ranked Blue Dukes will now head off to the powerful Gusho Invitational at Brookfield East this weekend. Worzella said this win is just the beginning of the hard work.
"We'll see where we're at with that," he said. "If we continue with this approach, oner game at a time, we can put ourselves in great position to have a successful season."
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