Few soccer teams entered the postseason playing as well as Muskego, as the Warriors won seven of their last nine regular-season games.
Muskego carried its success into the first week of the WIAA Division 1 tournament, defeating Racine Horlick, 5-1, on Oct. 20 and Kenosha Indian Trail, 5-0, on Oct. 22 to win a regional championship for the 13th time in the last 14 years.
The third-seeded Warriors (9-4-9 overall) will play at second-seeded Oak Creek (13-4-1) in a sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.
"I think following our seeding meeting our team was ready for the start of the new season," Muskego coach Aleks Vidakovich said. "In my time here at Muskego over the last few years, I have not met a more determined group than these seniors. If you look at both of our games this last week, it was truly a team effort, and we had a spark of energy from everyone."
Michael Anundson gave Muskego the lead in the second minute, and Rade Novakovich scored in the fourth minute to put the Warriors up, 2-0, early on 14th-seeded Racine Horlick.
Horlick pulled to within 2-1 in the 11th minute. The game stayed that way until the 61st minute when a goal by Novakovich provided Muskego with some breathing room. Nikola Prpa found the back of the net in the 84th minute, and Travis Bednarek scored in the 88th minute.
"Racine Horlick was a strong team, and clearly their overall record did not reflect what kind of team they really were," Vidakovich said. "They had a few dangerous players that gave us some trouble, and we were able to hold them off. Our defense and back line have been consistent and strong for us throughout the entire year, and I think that they could compete and defend with the very best.
"We were able to get off to a quick start, which really helped the momentum of the game. Scoring two goals in the first three minutes really helped us gain a somewhat comfortable cushion. In a game like soccer that sometimes is not always the best, but we were able to keep our composure and finish the game on a high note."
The Warriors quickly jumped on 11th-seeded Indian Trail (5-7-4), which upset sixth-seeded Franklin (9-5-4) in its regional opener.
Novakovich scored in the 32nd, 37th and 38th minutes to put Muskego up, 3-0, at halftime. The senior added his fourth goal of the game in the 50th minute. Capping the scoring for the Warriors was Stathis Demopoulos in the 66th minute.
Demopoulos and Dejo Rokvic had assists against Indian Trail.
"The team was very well organized and had a lot of speed and energy on their side," Vidakovich said. "With the depth of our bench, we were able to match that and kept the high pace going for 90 minutes."
Muskego took down Oak Creek, 5-2, when the two teams met in the Warrior Cup on Sept. 23. If the Warriors can beat the Knights for a second time, they will likely face top-ranked Marquette in a sectional final at Kenosha Bradford High School at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.
"It will be a great game against two seasoned teams," Vidakovich said. "A lot of players from both sides have been playing with each other or against each other since a young age. This game will come down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes.
"Oak Creek is the SEC champion and the No. 2 seed in our region. We're going to their home field, and it will be a great environment to play in. I think as a whole our team is ready to get back out on the field and get ready to start training and preparing for Thursday's game."