By Nick Freimuth and Peter Kerwin Sturgeon Bay never led in a WIAA sectional semi-final soccer match against #1 seed in the state Kohler broadcast on 103.3 FM ‘The Clipper.’ The Blue Bombers had home-field advantage, scored the first goal, and was the heavy favorite against the young Clippers. Sturgeon Bay dropped out of the top-ten in rankings during the final week of the season. Kohler was number one for most of the season. The Clippers didn’t buy into all of that hype and won in a shootout 2-2 and five goals to three in the extra period.
It took 90 minutes plus 20 minutes of overtime and the game was still tied 2-2. With a sophomore goalkeeper, it should have spelled victory for Kohler. Instead, Eli Dietzel stepped up to the penalty kick line first for the Clippers and delivered a sure-fire goal. Kohler followed with Conner Cassidy who missed wide left to give Sturgeon Bay an early lead in the shootout. Sturgeon Bay followed with Owen Stevenson, freshman Ben Luders, Adison Benzinger, each finding the back of the net. Leading four goals to three, Sturgeon Bay sent sophomore Carson Dvorak to the line to ice the victory. He fearlessly delivered the game-winning dagger to lift the Clippers into the sectional final Saturday at 1:00 PM against #2 seed Howards Grove, who beat Oostburg 2-0 on the other side of the bracket.
Year in and year out Coach Todd Maas puts together a schedule that tests the Division 4 limits and it paid off in a big way Thursday night. Sophomore goalkeeper Oscar Polecheck came of age in the biggest game of his young career. Eli Dietzel assisted on Sturgeon Bay’s first equalizer goal at 21:27 by Owen Stevenson. The Clippers needed another equalizer in the second half and it came from junior Adison Benzinger on a direct kick from 35 yards away in the 71st minute. That goal swung the momentum strongly in the Clippers favor for the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Kohler came out swinging in overtime but keeper Oscar Polecheck came up huge with several saves in the 20-minute extra period to send the game into a shootout. Sturgeon Bay was definitely the David vs. the Goliath in Kohler. In the shootout, Sturgeon Bay was flawless and sealed an improbable victory on a night filled with drama. You can be sure the Division 4 Wisconsin Soccer world has taken notice of the ‘Cardiac Clippers.’