Pulaski boys soccer team falls to Whitefish Bay in state semifinal

Tackmier, Ambrosius score for Red Raiders
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

UPDATED: Nov. 3, 6:50 p.m.

The Pulaski High School boys soccer team saw its season come to a close after a 4-2 loss to Whitefish Bay in a Division 2 state semifinal match on Nov. 3 at Kohler Engines Stadium at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.

Whitefish Bay jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Pulaski scored its first goal. Just when the Red Raiders had settled in, the Blue Dukes scored two more goals to grab a comfortable 4-1 lead at the break. Pulaski fought hard in the second half and eventually were able to net a second goal late in the contest, but soon after ran out of time.

Fourth-seeded Pulaski, making its second state appearance ever, had a plan coming into the match to try and keep things tied — or grab the lead, of course — for as long as possible with top-seeded Whitefish Bay. The reason for that is because the Blue Dukes are no stranger to the state stage — making their 16th ever appearance and second straight, so keeping things tied at zero was a way to put the pressure solely on Whitefish Bay.

Things didn’t go as Pulaski hoped.

Whitefish Bay scored 1 minute, 39 seconds into the contest after a lead pass down the middle of the field. The Blue Dukes headed the ball over Pulaski goalie Mason Baker with a couple other Red Raiders also in the vicinity.

“When you score in the first two minutes, all that pressure went away,” said Pulaski coach Jeff Schneider. “They just were very calm and cool the rest of that half.”

Whitefish Bay had a couple more chances to score in the early going, but Baker made a couple nice saves. Just when it looked like Pulaski had settled in, Whitefish Bay was able to tack on a second goal.

The Red Raiders were tagged for a foul deep in their territory, setting the Blue Dukes up with a great look at the goal for their penalty shot. Baker stopped the initial kick, but the ball bounced right back to the player taking the penalty kick, and he snuck the ball past Baker on a second attempt at the 18:34 mark.

Whitefish Bay was tagged with a foul 11 seconds later, setting up a free kick near midfield. Dylan Carley sent a high kick toward the Whitefish Bay goal, and Corbin Tackmier was able to get his head on the ball and sneak it over the keeper to make it 2-1 at the 19:14 mark.

There wasn’t a ton of scoring chances over the next several minutes, with the next shot not coming until the 28:32 mark.

After another long Whitefish Bay pass into the box, the Blue Dukes were able to tip the ball past Baker at the 33:41 mark to make it a two-goal cushion again.

Whitefish Bay then pushed its lead to three with another goal at 36:47.

“We were looking good at 2-1 and we were looking for a comeback and then they just got those two and it just killed our spirits,” said Austin Lipsey.

Despite being credited with nine saves during his 76:18 in the goal, Baker took most of the blame.

“It was just communication and then their long balls,” said Baker on what allowed Whitefish Bay so many shots on goal. “A lot of it was on me, the communication just wasn’t there between me and the guys in front of me, so that didn’t really help.”

Pulaski continued to battle in the second half, yet it was Whitefish Bay getting most of the shots up.

Pulaski’s defense did a better job of fending off Whitefish Bay attacks, with Baker also making a couple more saves.

Pulaski’s chances to cut into the deficit were few and far between. Hayden Burkel had a shot of his bang off the crossbar at the 49:46 mark. Burkel also got another look at the 68:35 mark, but Whitefish Bay’s keeper made a sliding save to keep the match at 4-1.

After each team made some substitutions, Chase Ambrosius was finally able to sneak a shot into the goal. He broke free from some defenders and then skipped the ball past the keeper at the 76:18 mark.

“It felt pretty good. I’ll always remember being able to score at state,” said Ambrosius. “But I was pretty much just focused on looking at the clock and seeing if we could manage to get one or two more to see how close we could get. But that one goal is a good way to top off the season, I guess.”

Unfortunately for Pulaski, it was the last look at goal for the match, as both teams continued to sub players in as the final few minutes ticked away.

Gaven Haldemann spent the final 3:42 defending the goal for Pulaski. Burkel was credited with three of Pulaski’s five shots in the contest. Pulaski was outshot 23-5 (13-3 shots on goal) in the contest.

Pulaski played the contest without Ryan Drafz, who led the team in scoring this season. After dealing with an injury all season, a new injury to his opposite side this week put his status up in the air. He tried to give it a go during warmups, but the call was eventually made to not play him.

Pulaski ended the season with an 18-5-2 record and got redemption after falling a match short of state last fall.

“I think it’s extremely special,” said Jack Ryan on the team’s state run. “We made history just coming here, being the second time in school history, especially the fact that we were up 1-0 last year (in the sectional final) to go to this game. It makes it all the more special now that we redeemed ourselves from last year and kind of established ourselves as one of the best teams in the state.”

“For these guys to finally punch through and get it, I think it’s going to only help our program, because we do talk about getting to state and it’s not a foreign concept,” said Schneider. “Now that we’ve actually been here, we’ve played a game down here, I think the program in general — it’s a bright future. I’m very proud of the team, this was a great opportunity and I thought, a good showing.”

More match details can be found at www.wiaawi.org/Portals/0/PDF/Results/Boys_Soccer/2022/d2game1.htm.