By Murray Gleffe
MILWAUKEE – The Notre Dame Academy boys’ soccer team had several chances in regulation and overtime to notch a goal to propel it to victory.
However, it wasn’t meant to be, as the top-seeded Shorewood Greyhounds came through with penalty kicks in a shootout to defeat No. 2 Notre Dame 0-0 (5-3 penalty kicks) in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 State Championship game Nov. 6 at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
“We didn’t have much PK (penalty kick) experience coming in,” Notre Dame Head Coach Michael Prudisch said. “(Shorewood) buried all of its shots, and we missed one. We thrived as a program in 2021. Being state runner-up shows how special this group is. It’s been an honor to coach these guys. They’ve been some of the most dedicated and determined young men I’ve known.”
The Tritons outshot the Greyhounds, 13-8.
Notre Dame (20-3-4 overall) goalie Omar Cendejas-Maldonado recorded one save but came out of his net to stop and deflect many more.
“(Cendejas-Maldonado) is one player I’m most proud of,” Prudisch said. “He started playing goalie in high school, and he’s worked hard to become one of the best in the state. He’s been our backbone with shutouts. I can’t say enough about him.”
The game had all the makings of an instant classic on paper, and it didn’t disappoint, despite the lack of scoring.
In the 20th minute, Shorewood (20-1-4) midfielder Denis Krioutchenkov (Davidson College recruit) received the ball about 30 yards out but was quickly surrounded by four Tritons, as the ball was cleared away.
Krioutchenkov entered the game with 52 goals and 117 points but found it difficult to generate any offense against the stout Notre Dame defense.
“Our game plan was similar to (the state semifinals),” Prudisch said. “We played two of the best forwards in back-to-back games. We did a good job of shutting down their midfielders to limit their attack.”
In the 33rd minute, Notre Dame had its best scoring opportunity of the half after Garett Watzka sent a cross to Ian Noble, who missed wide left of the net, as the game went into intermission scoreless.
“It’s a matter of a ball going an inch one way or an inch the other,” Prudisch said. “There’s not much you can do about it. We talked about it in practice to take advantage of the limited opportunities given.”
Facing a stiff 15-20 mile per hour wind in the first half, the Tritons shifted downwind to start the second half, and it paid dividends.
Notre Dame’s Elliot Bordini, Erik Sack, Alan Schneider and Emmett Lawton all took shots on net in the opening minutes of the second half but couldn’t find the charity mark.
“I thought we were the better team in terms of possession,” Prudisch said. “We knew we could tire them out. Usually, we get a goal, but tonight was a different story.”
For what was a relatively clean game the first 58 minutes, it turned ugly in the 59th minute when Shorewood defender Owen Weisse was whistled for a yellow card after catapulting a Notre Dame player to the ground.
The rough-housing continued, as additional yellow cards were handed out in the 67th, 69th and 71st minutes.
With four minutes remaining, Sack hit the crossbar with a shot, denying the Tritons a chance at the lead.
Down the stretch, neither team could score, so a pair of 10-minute overtime periods ensued.
Whether it was nerves or trying to prevent a goal, only four combined shots were registered, but none crossed the goal line, setting up the dramatic shootout.
In a soccer shootout, each team selects five players to attempt a penalty kick from short range.
The squad with the most makes wins the game, and in this case, a state championship.
After two makes by Shorewood and one by Notre Dame, the Tritons missed their second attempt, opening the door for the Greyhounds.
With the score 4-3 in favor of Shorewood, Chris Aguilar iced the game by beating Cendejas-Maldonado and breaking the hearts of the Tritons faithful.
“There were two great teams on the field today,” Cendejas-Maldonado said. “At the end of the day, whoever wins, wins. We had a helluva team the past four years and treated each other like family. It’s difficult right now.”