New Berlin Eisenhower is only halfway through its Woodland Conference slate, but last week provided the Lions with two crucial games against fellow contenders as they chase their first league title since 1997.
After playing to a 0-0 draw against Wauwatosa West on Sept. 26, Eisenhower collected a crucial 1-0 victory over Shorewood on Sept. 28.
The win over the Greyhounds left the Lions to enter this week in a first-place tie with Pewaukee at 5-0-1. A 4-0 nonconference win over Wauwatosa East on Oct. 1 put Eisenhower, which is ranked No. 2 in Division 2, at 11-0-2 overall.
"The team is playing soccer with a possession-style offense and solid defense," Eisenhower coach Gary Troy said. "Our confidence is growing while we maintain a focus on each game."
Because of field conditions at Eisenhower, the Wauwatosa West match was moved to the artificial turf on the Trojans' home field at Whitman Middle School.
The Lions outshot and had more corner kicks than the Trojans and had a goal called back due to offsides.
"Our defense was very sharp and allowed only a few looks at goal," Eisenhower coach Gary Troy said. "Offensively, we did well at moving the ball around and connecting passes to control possession. Wauwatosa West was quick to close us down whenever we were close to goal and did well to have numbers up when defending. Although we outshot them, most of our attack was stifled by West.
"I was pleased with our play. It was one of those soccer matches when the better team doesn't get the result."
Weather also impacted play in Eisenhower's win over Shorewood, as a strong wind blew straight down the field the entire match.
The Lions played with the wind in the first half and scored the lone goal when Brandon Dombrowski used his left foot to slot home a pass from Nick DeFrance in the 15th minute.
"We continued to maintain possession of the ball for the rest of the half but were unable to get another score," Troy said. "Playing into the strong wind gave some advantage to Shorewood, and the game was evenly played the rest of the way. Both teams had chances, but we held on."
The loss dropped Shorewood, ranked No. 3 in Division 3, to 9-2-1 overall and 5-1-0 in the Woodland, one point behind Eisenhower and Pewaukee.
"Our defense, led by Matthew Rolefson and Jacob Olp, was able to keep the clean sheet for goalkeeper Luc Powell," Troy said. "It was a total team effort for a well-deserved win."
Eisenhower again battled the rain in a 4-0 win over Wauwatosa East at Whitman Field.
Luke Duffin put the Lions up 1-0 in the in the seventh minute on a one-timer from in front of the goal off a cross from Dominic Quirk. Eisenhower struck again just 90 seconds later when Quirk scored after intercepting an errant pass.
"After two high-intensity conference matches earlier in the week, it was possible that there might be a letdown," Troy said. "However, the boys came out focused."
Matthew Reichl scored three minutes into the second half and again in the 50th minute off a pass on a free kick by Olp.
Jake Prodoehl earned the clean sheet against the Red Raiders, as Eisenhower recorded its seventh consecutive shutout.