An offensive lift from a defensive standout has the Sturgeon Bay boys soccer team on the verge of a state title.
After giving up an own goal to Northland Pines in the 17th minute of the Division 4 state tournament semifinal, defender Adison Benzinger responded with a goal in the 30th minute to tie the score. Benzinger’s tally seemed to inspire the Clippers as they added four more goals and cruised to 5-1 win.
“It’s extremely important to come back with a quick goal before we are completely out of the game,” said Benzinger, the Packerland Conference player of the year who scored his second goal of the season. “We did just that and I think that changed the entire game. I think if it would’ve gone 1-0 longer we still would have gotten a goal but that could have made the game a lot closer.”
The Eagles’ lone goal came when Brady Snedden dribbled the ball up the right side and sent a low cross near the 6-yard line. Sturgeon Bay defender Trey Maas tried to clear the ball, but it deflected past goalkeeper Joe Wind.
“It was very tough because I know that he is so much better than that,” Benzinger said. “He really stepped up his game after that point.”
Benzinger’s equalizer was a free kick from 35 yards out. Benzinger drove a ball to the right side of the goal that bounced off the turf and eluded the outstretched arm of Eagles keeper Colby Kruse.
Carson Dvorak scored the game winner when he collected a pass from CJ Fairchild at the top of the box and Dvorak slid a low shot past Kruse. DJ Lenius finished out the first half scoring when he scored off of Fairchild’s corner kick to put the Clippers up 3-1.
“We needed to possess better settle down and play our game,” Sturgeon Bay coach Todd Maas said of this team’s start. “We didn’t move into space very well at the start of the game, or pass to feet.”
Spencer Hubbard scored a pair of goals in the second half as the Clippers possessed the ball the majority of the half. Hubbard’s first goal was unassisted and his second goal was assisted by Dvorak.
Sturgeon Bay faces The Prairie School in Saturday’s final at 11 am. The Clippers and the Hawks met the second match of the season and drew 3-3. The Hawks took a 2-0 lead, but the Clippers responded with three goals to take a 3-2 lead early in the second half. They Hawks tied the game with a goal with late in the match.
The Prairie School routed Lake Mills 8-0 in the first semifinal. The Hawks owned a 2-0 lead at half time, but scored six goals between the 60th and 74th minute to put the game out of reach.
“It will definitely be a good game,” senior Owen Stevenson said. “Since the last time we played both teams have undoubtedly improved. At the end of the day, whichever team is able to stay composed and play with more passion will come out on top.”