It is said if you love something, you shouldn’t let it go.
Well, the Waukesha West boys soccer team must love early leads, because it sure wasn't letting go of that Saturday night.
The Wolverines scored twice in the first six minutes and held on in beating Pewaukee, 4-1, in a WIAA Division 2 sectional final at Waukesha North. The victory sends West to the state tournament Friday at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
“We came out hard, and the intensity was up right away,” senior midfielder Michael Pretli said. “It just motivated us through the entire game.”
Pretli sent a statement 33 seconds into the match, scoring on a header off a free kick from senior defender Cameron Roessler.
“You can’t ask for anything else,” West coach Marcel Feenstra said. “That was incredible.”
West junior defender Evan Donini made it 2-0 scoring at 5:21.
“It was my first goal of the season, and coach kept saying, ‘You’re going to get one in a big game,’ so it just felt good to get one in a big game,” Pretli said.
It was a big blow to Pewaukee, which was looking to get back to state after nearly making it last year as well.
“We started too flat,” Pewaukee coach Randy Staus said. “It was not too smart, two fouls off of two set pieces. You can’t dig a hole against a team like Waukesha West.”
West freshman midfielder Erich Legut didn’t score early, but his goal at 32:53 put West (14-5-2) up, 3-0.
A three-goal lead was certainly safe with West senior goalkeeper German Ferreira in the box. The senior stopped several shots on goal, as Pewaukee put consistent pressure on West’s half throughout most of the game.
Ferreira’s ability to reach high balls was evident, as he punched some over the bar, made a handful of leaping saves and even did a save resembling a volleyball set as it soared high and away from the goal.
“We were up 3-0 … and that was a big reliever,” said Ferreira, who has started since his freshman year. “We knew we couldn’t settle down and be hungry to score more. They had that opportunity with the PK, and that woke us up.”
Ferreira faced shot after shot, his lone goal allowed coming on a free kick from Pewaukee senior striker Alex Goodyear that cut West’s lead to 3-1 at 34:38.
“They pressed hard,” Feenstra said of Pewaukee. “We got in trouble, and that’s how they scored the goal. I made an adjustment in the second half, and in the second half we were way more in control.”
And that Pewaukee goal helped turn things back in West’s favor.
“I think we were at ease a bit, and once we got scored on it woke us up,” Pretli said. “Then we got back to playing on our level.”
But that was all the Pirates could muster, and West senior forward Adam DeMaster added a breakaway goal at 85:23 to seal the state-tournament-clinching victory for West, which will play Whitefish Bay in a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday. Bay beat Cedarburg, 4-0, earlier Saturday.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Ferreira said of going to state. “We had the opportunity my sophomore year, and Pewaukee was the one that took it away. For me, it was like a revenge game for me to come out and go to state.”
This will be the first trip to state since 2010 and the Wolverines’ third trip to state. West lost in the first round in both 2002 and 2010.
“This was something we talked about before the season,” Feenstra said. “It’s a dream that came true.
“We’ve been close a lot of times, it just didn’t work out. This year it did.”
It was a tough ending for the Pirates, who finished 16-4-4.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you tip your cap to Waukesha West,” Staus said. “They’ve got a good team, we had a good season.
“Whatever I say to them now is not going to make them feel better until they reflect on all the great things they did this season.”