One of these days Waukesha West is going to walk away from Time Warner Cable Stadium at Uihlein Soccer Park with a gold ball instead of silver.
The Wolverines thought that day was June 21, when they held a 1-0 lead on Waunakee in the WIAA Division 2 Girls Soccer Championship match for more than 66 minutes. But in the next 14 minutes, nothing went right for the girls in white.
Waunakee tied the match at 66:23, when Waukesha West was whistled for a foul in the 18-yard box. At this point Waukesha West fans, players and coaches were beginning to loose their sense of humor.
"We were told we ran the player down from behind," veteran head girls soccer coach David Zindler said. "We saw it differently."
At any rate, Waunakee senior midfielder Macie Maulbetsch was called on to take the penalty kick and made good on it, eluding Waukesha West junior goalie Jessie Losiniecki.
Less than two minutes later, the Warriors (24-5) scored what proved to be the game-winner. The fatal play started with a free kick from sophomore defender Jada Dayne, daughter of 1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, star running back for the University of Wisconsin. Dayne launched the ball deep into the Wolverines' six-yard box, and Losiniecki got a hand on it, but didn't secure the ball. It was redirected in by junior midfielder Olivia Zaleski.
"There was chaos in the box, and they got a touch on it. Sometimes you just throw the ball into the mixer, and things kind of just happen," Zindler said. "There was a loose ball with a lot of bodies around it."
For a moment late in the game, it appeared overtime was a given. Waukesha West sophomore midfielder Natalie Yass, in charge of the team's cornerkicking duties, fired over the head of junior goalie Olivia Mecham. Sophomore forward Dani Rhodes headed the ball into the net, but the score was waved off. The referee said Rhoads pushed off to buy space.
"The explanation was that she had two hands on her back and pushed her before she headed the ball. That's why he disallowed the goal," Zindler said. "I didn't have that angle."
Mecham was certain the play was going to be blown dead.
"I knew the ref saw it, and he was going to call it on them," Mecham said.
Waukesha West had its final chance with time winding down. A hand ball was called just outside the Warriors' 18-yard box. Yass set up shop with her free kick, but was confronted with a Waunakee four-person wall. Her kick flew high over the goal.
Rhodes scored for Waukesha West in the third minute.
"Waukesha West took it to us in the first half," Waunakee head girls soccer coach Jesus Torres said. "Rhodes and Grall (senior forward Katie Grall) were dissecting us, so in the second half we put a stopper in the middle to mark one of them. Waukesha West is a great team. They deserve it, and I wish I could split it with them."
The Wolverines, owners of eight straight appearances at the state tournament, is still craving the top prize.
"This is the cruelest game of them all," Zindler said. "It's cruel if it happens once, but we've been in the state title game four of the last six years. You want to think you're doing it right, and some breaks can go your way. It didn't go our way."
The Wolverines advanced to the state championship with a 1-0 victory June 20 against Cedarburg in the state semifinal match.
Grall scored the only goal of the afternoon in the 17th minute. Rhodes had the assist, and Losiniecki had the shutout against the Bulldogs.
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