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Just as Muskego's girls soccer team was about to receive its medals and plaque for winning a sectional championship, a sign was brought onto the field and over to the Warriors.

It carried a simple but impressive message: "4 in a row." 

A goal by Katie Wasiak early in the first overtime session lifted top-seeded Muskego to a 3-2 victory over second-seeded Kenosha Tremper in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final June 10 at Kenosha Bradford High School.

The win sends the Warriors to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive season, a feat only accomplished by 11 other girls soccer programs at the Division 1 level in state history. Waukesha West was the last to do so, making seven straight Division 1 state tournaments from 2007-2013. Most of those feats, however, have been accomplished with an eight-team D1 field. It's been four teams for the past four years. 

It certainly hasn't been an easy path, as Muskego has needed double overtime or penalty kicks to get past Tremper in three of the past four years.

"Not many players can say (they went to state four straight years), and these seniors can say that," Muskego coach Eric Hess said. "Not many programs at the Division 1 level can say they have gone four years in a row."

Fifth-ranked Muskego will face sixth-ranked Bay Port in a state semifinal at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 15 at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee. The winner will advance to the Division 1 state championship game against either top-seeded Brookfield Central or 10th-ranked Oconomowoc at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 17. 

It didn't take long for the Warriors to take the lead against Tremper, as Wasiak scored on a 25-yard strike just 3 minutes, 4 seconds in. 

"I just went for it," Wasiak said. "In the previous games, I've shot from distance multiple times, so I had that space and just took it right away."

Tremper equalized in the 54th minute when Lauren McKeon beat Warriors goalkeeper Lexi Schnittka with a shot from 20 yards out. The Trojans went up, 2-1, in the 72nd minute on a goal by Janelle Caira.

Muskego suddenly had its back against the wall, needing a goal in the next 18 minutes to keep its season alive. 

A foul was called on Tremper's Chloe Geryol at 78:23, setting up a 25-yard free kick for the Warriors. Leah Bolskar capitalized, putting a perfect shot just inside the right post to beat Trojans goalkeeper Destiny Paul. 

"You could tell we were creating opportunities," Hess said. "The goal gave us a lift, and it rolled right into the overtime. I wish there wasn't a five-minute break because we were starting to roll, and I didn't want to lose that momentum."

Early in the first overtime, Bolskar beat her defender and glanced up to see Wasiak open and making a run in the middle of the field. Bolskar delivered a perfect pass to Wasiak, who put it in the back of the net from 20 yards out just 2:49 into the extra session. 

"I was screaming for it," Wasiak said. "I wanted that so bad. I was screaming her name. She saw my run and played a perfect ball. That was so perfect."

Muskego's two top offensive threats came through when the Warriors needed them the most. 

"I saw the two runners that had already run past me," Bolskar said. "I was hoping someone would come under the ball and she was there."

Muskego still had to keep Tremper off the board over the next 17:11. The Trojans forced a couple of scrambles in front of Schnittka, but the Warriors defense found a way to clear the ball from danger each time. 

With a roster filled with players with experience playing in a state tournament, Muskego isn't content with simply making it to Uihlein. The Warriors certainly celebrated their sectional championship, but it was clear they have bigger goals.

Experience on the state's biggest stage is an advantage Muskego will have over the rest of the Division 1 field. Bay Port will be playing at state for the first time since 2010, Brookfield Central hasn't been there since 2013, and Oconomowoc will be making its first appearance.

"Since we have so much experience going into it, everything we have to do now, we know what to do," Bolskar said. "Since we've made it the past three years, we can fix all the mistakes we've made." 

Brookfield Central is widely considered the favorite in Division 1, but Muskego is the lone team from Wisconsin to have beaten the Lancers this season.  

The Warriors have yet to advance to the state championship game despite making three consecutive trips to the state semifinals. Muskego lost, 3-1, to Divine Savior Holy Angels in 2016 and 1-0 to Kettle Moraine in 2015. 

"This year has been about making statements," Hess said. "Earlier in the year when we beat Brookfield Central when they were undefeated in the state it was like, 'Hey, we go to state every year, but we've never done anything beyond that.' 

"That was a statement game. Now we want to make a statement that we belong and we are not just a one-and-done." 

 

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