Waterloo soccer won the first state title in any team sport for the high school on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs beat Peoria Notre Dame, 4-3, in the Class 2A title game at Hoffman Estates.
The game couldn’t have started any better. The Bulldogs had two goals on their first two shots.
“We couldn’t get a better start with two goals in about a minute or so,” Waterloo coach Chad Holden said. “That free kick is something that we’ve worked on and we scored on it in prior games.”Waterloo’s Philip Most, left, and Ethan Lewis, right, celebrate Most’s goal in the first half. (Spencer Michelson photo)
Kane Osterhage scored on a free kick set up right outside the Notre Dame box. Griffin Lenhardt kicked him the ball down the right side, while Osterhage took possession and got a clear shot off. Not even 30 seconds later, Philip Most added a goal. He came up the field, picked up the ball and cut down the center of the box.
But as quickly as Waterloo had a two-goal lead, it evaporated. Notre Dame notched in a goal on a free kick with 36 minutes to play in the first half.
For much of the rest of the first half, the game was tightly contested. Waterloo’s Dawson Holden, the coach’s son, did exit with a knee injury which halted play at the 13:54 mark of the first half. He returned in the second half to the delight of fans cheering his name. That may have been because Waterloo had added to its lead by that point.
With three minutes to play in the first half, the ‘Dogs got another goal. Ben Huels scored on an assist by Kane Osterhage. That sentence has written itself all season long. Waterloo led 3-1 at halftime.
With 25 minutes to play in the second half, Notre Dame scored again to cut the lead to 3-2. With the two-goal advantage, Waterloo played a little more defensive; that changed after the goal.
Waterloo’s Ryan Stites, on a much more aggressive offensive push, was able to get that two-goal advantage back by scoring in traffic inside the box. It gave Waterloo a 4-2 lead with 15:30 to play.
But again, the Notre Dame offense took to being the aggressor.Waterloo’s Ryan Stites, left, and Ben Huels react to a second half goal. (Spencer Michelson photo)
Waterloo goaltender Trevor Coplin said he was telling the defense to play possession, but they kept trying to push the ball forward. It gave Notre Dame’s offense some momentum.
“I was sitting in the back of the net, and all of our team, the entire time I said we need possession, possession, possession,” Coplin said. “They were not listening, they just kept kicking the ball.”
With 5:10 left to play, Notre Dame’s offense scored again. Waterloo still led 4-3 and ran out the clock by that score. It didn’t come easy, as the Notre Dame offense brought pressure going for the tie. For a video of the final minute of play, click here.
A parade celebrating Waterloo’s state championship took place Sunday, proceeding down Main Street before ending at the Monroe County Courthouse. A ceremony followed at the bandstand. Click here for a short video from the ceremony.
“I’m speechless. Like coach said, I don’t think it’s fully set in yet, but it feels great. I’m speechless right now; I don’t know what to say,” Osterhage, a senior, said.
This was the third state straight title for a Monroe County high school soccer team. In the last two seasons, Gibault and Columbia have won Class 1A state championships.
“That’s amazing. I didn’t even actually think about that,” Huels said. “That’s pretty amazing.”
To read more from the team, be sure to pick up the Nov. 11 edition of the Republic-Times newspaper.