Waterloo made it 3-for-3 for Monroe County soccer teams Saturday.
The Bulldogs outscored Peoria Notre Dame 4-3 to win the Class 2A state championship. Four different players scored for Waterloo, which finished 25-3-1.
Waterloo followed the state titles by rivals Gibault in 2013 and Columbia in 2014. Both teams won Class 1A championships. It’s the first state title for any team at Waterloo, which scored two goals in the first three minutes of the game to take the lead for good.
“You couldn’t get a better start, with two goals in about a minute,” Bulldogs coach Chad Holden said. “To get a start like that against a program like Peoria Notre Dame is a feat in itself, and then to score another one while we’re still celebrating the first one, you couldn’t ask for a better start.”
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The ending was blissfully sweet, too. After the Irish (22-2-3) got within 4-3 at 74 minutes, 49 seconds, they pushed up numbers and stretched the Waterloo defense in every direction.
But the final seconds ticked off, and the Bulldogs celebrated at midfield. Junior goalie Trevor Coplin admitted he didn’t know where he was as he ran wildly around the field.
“I don’t know what happened,” Coplin said. “I was going to celebrate with my team, and the official got in my way ... and I went around. But yeah, I was lost.”
Senior Kane Osterhage and juniors Philip Most, Ben Huels and Ryan Stites scored goals for the Bulldogs. Junior Griffin Lenhardt assisted on Osterhage’s goal, Osterhage had the assist on Huels’ goal and Huels assisted on Stites’ score. Most scored unassisted.
The goals by Osterhage and Most came about 45 seconds apart, although because of a clock malfunction, the record will show that they occurred at 1:43 and 1:48.
Osterhage’s goal was set up when Notre Dame senior Sam Jockisch fouled Huels about 30 yards from the goal. Lenhardt’s free kick went to Osterhage, who made it 1-0.
“Every time we have a free kick from there, we look for it,” Osterhage said. “There was no guy anywhere around, so I just stand on the end of the wall and Griffin plays it. I play it across or I shoot it. It was awesome. It was a great feeling. We couldn’t ask for a better start. To score two goals within three minutes, that’s just a great start.
“I’m speechless. I don’t think it’s fully set in yet, but it feels great.”
Osterhage and Huels each finished the season with 31 goals.
“I didn’t even realize we scored (two goals) in the first two minutes,” Huels said. “That’s amazing. I’ve never even heard of that before.”
Most made it 2-0 when he rifled in a shot from the top of the box. Although no assist was credited, Most said junior Tyler Grob got him the ball.
“All their guys would follow the ball to one side, so that left the middle and the other side open,” Most said. “Grob (faked) a kid and passed it across. I saw the opening and just took it. Usually, there’s people riding your back, but there wasn’t anybody within 10 yards. I had a nice little gap to squeeze through and take a shot.”
Notre Dame scored on Aidan Hill’s 25-yard free kick at 3:57, cutting Waterloo’s lead to 2-1. But Huels took a cross from Osterhage on the right side and scored to make it 3-1 at 36:50.
Irish senior T.J. Rea made it 3-2 with a goal in front at 55:18. Stites’ goal from 10 yards out seemed to put Waterloo in firm control with a 4-2 lead at 64:27, but Notre Dame answered with a goal by Rea that made it 4-3 at 74:49.
Waterloo held on for dear life in the closing minutes as Notre Dame pushed numbers ahead.
“I kept telling them, ‘We need possession, possession, possession,” Coplin said. “They would not listen. All we kept doing was kicking the ball. It was back-and-forth kickball. I was biting my arm. I was scared. It was scary because I didn’t want to disappoint anybody.”
Waterloo finally celebrating with its lead intact.
“I don’t think it’s soaked in quite yet, really,” Holden said. “It’s been quite a season, and since the postseason, it’s been non-stop. It’s a great feeling, whatever I’m having right now.”
Notre Dame impressed
The Irish, who won Class 2A state championships in 2010 and 2012, were unable to overcome Waterloo’s physical presence.
“They were a very physical team,” Irish coach Mike Bare said. “We’re not a very big, physical team. The game was allowed to be physical. (The referee) just wasn’t calling a lot. Some referees will call that tighter, some referees will let you play. Today, he let them play, and that kind of style did not benefit us at all.
“We’ve played physical teams before, but they don’t necessarily have many technical players. This team could do a little bit of both. They could bang on you, but they could connect a couple of passes, they had guys who were good on the ball and could take on players one v. one. What they did well was they broke well, and when they broke, they broke with speed.”
Bare didn’t fault his team’s effort.
“I was really proud of the fact that our boys never quit,” he said. “We were pressing to the end. We went to three backs, something we’ve never done all year, to press numbers forward. We got some good chances near the end of the game.”