Pewaukee powers way to control of Woodland soccer
The Pewaukee soccer team remained unbeaten with two regular season matches to play, but more importantly, the Pirates grabbed sole possession of first place in the Woodland Conference on Wednesday with a 4-0 win over Wauwatosa West.
The Trojans came into Pewaukee also unbeaten in Woodland play, but the Pirates used a dominant second half to assert themselves as the class of the conference.
All four goals came after halftime. The first half proved to be a defensive battle with little action near either goal; the Pirates held a 3-0 advantage on corner kicks and outshot West 3-1 but had nothing to show for it.
“In the first half, we were just hitting it a bit too hard and seemed a little bit excited,” Pirates head coach Randy Staus said. “The guys were kind of saying to each other, ‘Just settle down.’ We weren’t playing our best in those first 10 minutes.”
The Pirates got to work early in the second half, however, when Griffin Jende scored in 43rd minute on a breakaway sprint to the goal with one defender to beat. Alex Zabel provided the assist.
“On Griffin’s play, in the first half he would have teed off on it and shot it over the post,” Staus said. “We just had more organization. Instead of just smashing the ball, we were playing together more.”
For as long as the Pirates waited to first get on the board, they made up for it quickly. Less than two minutes later, Zabel put Pewaukee up 2-0 on a penalty kick. The Trojans’ goalkeeper, Jonathan Meyer, blocked the kick, but Zabel rebounded it himself and knocked it in uncontested.
The Pirates defense kept the Trojans at bay as it did in the first half, while Chandler Bentey added some insurance in the 74th minute and Zabel again in the 77th.
The Pirates (15-0-2) needed only eight shots to build the 4-0 advantage.
“We always judge ourselves by how we’re playing at the end of the week,” Staus said. “Today was a big game and it puts us in the driver’s seat for conference with a week to play. It was a great test for us.”
While the Woodland title hasn’t been wrapped up just yet, it was especially sweet for some Pewaukee seniors who remember the conference title slipping away a year ago, as well as a loss in the state semifinals.
“Those are both definitely motivators,” Staus said. “Making it state last year is a definite motivator. There are a lot of seasoned veteran guys on this team who ended last year with a bitter taste in their mouth. It wasn’t a fun way for them to end a season. But our goal is not to be undefeated, we just want to play good soccer.”
Meanwhile, the Trojans (11-6, 8-1) visit St. Thomas More on Friday and try to finish their final week of regular season play on a high note.
“Tonight was obviously frustrating because we know that’s not our best soccer,” Tosa West head coach Ryan Bailey said. “You have to regroup with a week to go and get better.”
As the Pirates prepare for Monday’s match at Brown Deer, it’s a challenge to keep such an experienced, battle-tested group focused on the smaller tasks at hand and off the big picture – for now.
“Our theme this year is ‘one more’,” Staus said. “We want to do one more of everything.”
One game deeper than last year’s schedule would put the Pirates on the brink of history.
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