The Lakeland boys’ soccer team looked for the upset when they played one-seeded Waupaca on Thursday, Oct. 24 in the second round of regionals.
The Comets held their ground firm, winning 4-1.
“We knew it was going to be a strong team,” coach Ihor Myshchyshyn said. “We’re coming in to play a team that plays pretty much year round.”
Early in the first minute, Waupaca’s Keagan Turrubiates took a shot left that just missed the backside of the net.
In the third minute, Kyle Peterson made a run at the goal, but got stopped by a couple of Comet defenders. Both teams were feeling each other out.
Three minutes later, Waupaca’s Bryce Boldt went to the baseline of the goal for a pass that just went too far for his teammates to get to.
Then, Vincent Strong made a great save. It was just him and a Comet attacker and he made the save, keeping the game at 0-0.
There was some confusion for Waupaca in the 16th minute. With the Thunderbirds threatening to score, both the Comet goalie and defender hesitated to attack the ball, leaving the Thunderbirds with a chance to score. The Comets reacted quickly and prevented any scoring chances.
One thing the Comets used to their advantage was their speed. On a through ball up the middle, Boldt beat the Lakeland defense. Only Strong stood in his way.
Strong thought about coming up to stop him, then retreated, before Boldt shot it behind him in the net. Comets led 1-0. The assist went to Keenin Polebitski.
“We stared pretty well. I thought we went toe to toe until the first goal,” Myshchyshyn said. “It was nice to see we could play against them.”
Trying to keep the game at 1-0, Strong made another terrific save, preventing the goal one on one with Polebitski in the 26th minute.
But during the same minute, Polebitski ran down the right sideline and took a hard shot over the head of Strong for a 2-0 Comet lead. Boldt had the assist.
One of the Thunderbirds’ best chances to score in the first half came from Kyle Bengtson. On a cross pass, Bengtson one touched and then shot it, but it went too high over the net in the 30th minute.
Another great chance to score for Lakeland came from Kyle Peterson. He took a shot on goal that forced Waupaca’s goalie to make a little dive on the ball.
The Comets scored one more goal before half. Aidan Charapata took a long shot out that just went over the head of Strong for a 3-0 Comet lead in the 40th minute.
“In a game like this you always can say we can make them look good or we can make them look bad,” Myshchyshyn said. “But you could tell they had skills.”
The second half showed some of the strengths of the Thunderbirds. Right away the Thunderbirds put pressure on Waupaca, trying to come back from 3-0 deficit like they did in Rhinelander the week before.
In the 52nd and 53rd minutes, Boldt and Polebitski continued to make some runs at the goal. In one instance, Strong came out of the net to make the save, leaving it open. The Comets took a shot on goal, saved by the foot of Josh Sennett.
Brandon Boh hadn’t taken many shots so far in the game. He made a little run in the 57th minute, trying to create for his team, but he was stopped by Waupaca.
In the 63rd minute, the Comets scored once more by Max Gusmer, assisted by Boldt. The score expanded to 4-0.
Shortly after that, the Thunderbirds had a free kick off a foul. Sennett took the free kick, kicked it over the Comet defense, where Boh headed it in for the Thunderbirds’ first goal of the game. The score was 4-1.
“The boys deserve it,” Myshchyshyn said. “We had chances, half chances here, so (it was) a nice run, nice touch on the ball to tip it over the goalie.”
With Strong out of the goal because of injury in the 67th minute, Adam Klappa finished the game with a couple of saves and no goals allowed.
In the 73rd minute, Boh crossed the ball from deep that landed perfectly in the area of Bengtson. Bengtson took the shot and it went just left.
With time winding down in the contest, Boh passed it to Kyle Peterson who took a shot that just got deflected by a couple of Comet defenders. The Thunderbirds were getting some looks at a goal.
The Thunderbirds final chance of the game came in the 89th minute with a corner kick that nearly went in, saved by Waupaca’s goalie.
The loss ends the Thunderbirds season. They finish the season 4-3-3 in conference, 7-7-7 in overall.
“As I might have said before when I was getting into this position, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go,” Myshchyshyn said. “A lot of work especially for the boys, but I enjoyed the efforts, enjoyed them tying together as a team. It was all good.”
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]