The defending North Shore Conference champion Whitefish Bay boys soccer team had already caught the attention of area fans when it tied defending state champion Marquette last week.
And now, having done that, the Blue Dukes set out to take the first step towards defending their NSC title, which they did Tuesday night with a fine rally against a strong Germantown side.
Junior forward Paul Gwidt pounded into the net a close-in shot with an assist from senior midfielder Jack Comiskey at the 75:16 mark to give the Blue Dukes a 2-1 victory.
"This was an important win, a fact that was not lost on the players," said new Bay coach Andy Lee, "because Germantown is always a very good side and has some very good players."
With the win, Bay improved to 2-0-1 on the young season while the young Warhawks, who were also battling some injuries, fell in their season opener.
"They kept banging on our door and they finally put two in," said Germantown coach Omar Sethi. "We're lacking a depth on our roster this year (due to graduation losses) and some of our contributing players are still coming off injury or illness."
"But give Bay credit, they put a couple away when they needed to."
That they did and it was a long time coming too. The Blue Dukes' frustrations with finding the goal started early as a point blank free kick clanged off the right post just 2:45 into the game.
The Warhawks took advantage of that error, as strong and fleet senior forward Daniel Hougard broke free down the middle and took a nice pass from junior forward Paul Ciszewski and blasted it home from about 15 yards out into the left side of the net at the 12:13 mark.
"We had a hard time containing Daniel all night," said Lee.
Bay had a chance to tie the game just four minutes later, as a perfect corner kick resulted in a near perfect header, but Warhawk senior goalie Brandon Wein made a diving knockdown of the shot and then smothered the ball.
The Blue Dukes had two other chances in the first half, but none quite as good as those first two opportunities.
"We really didn't want to change the way we were playing," said Lee. "We believe in our system, so we just needed the guys to stay confident and hope things would come our way."
They did, as at the 68:28 mark, after putting on some considerable pressure to little effect earlier in the second half, the Blue Dukes got in close and junior midfielder Jack Menard made a nice crossing pass which senior defender TJ Schmid headed in point-blank to tie the score at 1-1.
Bay kept putting on the pressure until Gwidt's gamewinner just a few minutes later.
"They have some nice players," said Sethi, "and they're players with complete games. I liked the way we responded though. When we went down we were still pressing, still trying to go on the attack. It's a real credit to our guys."
And Lee was pleased with his team's tenacity after falling behind early.
"We kept passing, we kept pursuing," he said. "I've seen enough of this team already to know that the we have an opportunity at some really good things this year. We're not going to take anything for granted so we're going to try and get better everytime out."
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