UWS soccer team advances to WIAC title game
Brian Grand and Dan Baga scored to give the University of Wisconsin-Superior men's soccer team a 2-1 win over UW-Whitewater and a berth Friday night's Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship game.
"We knew going into the game that it was going to be close," UWS coach Joe Mooney said. "We've gone into double overtime the last three times that we've played Whitewater, dating back to 2011 so it's always a great match.
The Yellowjackets (11-6-3) will play at 6 p.m. today against top-seeded UW-Oshkosh (15-0-4) in the first-ever WIAC tournament championship game at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium. The winner will get the WIAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament.
Grand's eighth goal of the season was assisted by Ben Kasper and gave UWS a 1-0 lead 32:21 into the game.
It went to 2-0 less than 10 minutes later when Bayfield's Trevor Laroche-Theune found a wide open Dan Baga in front of the net and the junior from Bloomington put a header past Warhawk goalkeeper Josh Rohde for his second goal of the season.
"It was vital for us to get on the score sheet first," Mooney said. "It gave us the freedom to play a more open system and keep them stretched out. On the first goal, Grand finished off a great counter attack sequence for us, which hasn't been our strongest component this season. It was also great to see Baga get a big goal as well. It's a reward for all the hard work he's put in.
"In the end, it was our defense who really made the difference. Our back line was as good as ever and Elder came up very big when we needed him."
Sam Novak scored for the Warhawks (14-6-1) at the 55-minute mark.
Matt Elder made seven saves for the Yellowjackets and Rohde stopped two shots for UWW.
Oshkosh advanced to the title game with a 2-1 win over UW-Platteville. Tony Starnes scored the Titans' winning goal with 28 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Starnes leads UWO with nine goals.
UWO has won 10 straight contests since playing to a 1-1 double-overtime tie with Superior on Sept. 28 at Oshkosh.
"It should be a great match, both teams are led by great seniors throughout their lineups," Mooney said. "We've made some adjustments since then and I'm really happy with the progress our boys have made over the season. We're playing some of the best soccer I've seen our team play."
'JACKET JOTTINGS: The Warhwaks outshot the Yellowjackets 20-14. ... Wednesday's game was played in front of a crowd of 123 under chilly and breezy weather. ... During the regular season the Yellowjackets lost to Whitewater 1-0 in two overtimes on Oct. 19. ... Oshkosh is ranked No. 5 in NCAA Division III by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
UW-Superior 2 0 -- 2
UW-Whitewater 0 1 -- 1
1 32:21 UWS, Brian Grand (8) (Ben Kasper), 32:21. 2. . 41:19 UWSMS Dan Baga (2) (T. LaRoche-Theune), 41:19.
3. UWW Sam Novak (3) (Michael Montanye), 55:00.
Shots: UWS 14, UWW 20. Saves: Matt Elder, UWS, 7; Josh Rohde, UWW, 2.