In order to win its first conference championship since 1997, New Berlin Eisenhower's soccer team needed to get past Pewaukee, which has won four of the last six Woodland titles.
Although they possessed the ball the majority of the game, the Lions failed to generate scoring chances against the Pirates on Oct. 5, which allowed Pewaukee to take control of the Woodland Conference race with a 1-0 win.
It was the first loss of the season for Eisenhower, which entered unbeaten in its first 14 matches and ranked No. 2 in Division 2.
"This hurts," Eisenhower coach Gary Troy said. "We were 16 games into the season before we suffered a loss. We beat some good teams along the way.
"Pewaukee is a good team. Give them credit. They played hard. They won a lot of the 50-50 balls. We sat back a little bit sometimes. This was a tough one."
The match was held at the West Allis Athletic Complex, as Eisenhower's field was unplayable due to wet and muddy grounds.
After there were few scoring opportunities in the first half for either side, Pewaukee broke through in the 62nd minute.
Pewaukee senior Jake Mistele collected a loose ball in front of the net and tapped it past Eisenhower senior goaltender Luc Powell.
"It was a scramble," Troy said. "We failed to clear it. We didn't get the ball out of the back off of the corner kick, and that was it. One little turn in a game like this (is all it takes)."
In the 70th minute, Pewaukee junior goaltender Colin McGowan made a save on a header by Lion senior Matt Rolefson off a free kick. Rolefson had a shot on goal in the 84th minute, but McGowan trapped the ball between his legs to prevent Eisenhower from scoring.
The Lions had one last chance to equalize in the 89th minute. Eisenhower fired three shots from inside the box with each hitting a defender. One of those shots appeared to hit the hand of a Pewaukee player. The referee blew the play dead and awarded a goal kick to the Pirates.
"It looked like somebody went down, and when he was on the ground, the ball hit him in the hand," Troy said. "They didn't call it. The rule says, did he intend to play it with his hand. That's hard to say in a scramble like that."
Eisenhower has been led by a stingy defense that has yet to allow more than one goal in a game and has given up just two goals in seven conference games. However, the Lions have had periods of struggle on offense, which was apparent against Pewaukee.
"We've struggled with our offense all year," Eisenhower coach Gary Troy said. "Our defense has rock solid. We're 15 games into the season, and we've only given up six goals.
"We just don't have the right mentality up there in front sometimes. Sometimes we have one too many touches, and the next time we are taking it from too far out and not playing within our capabilities."
Pewaukee moved to 7-0-1 in the Woodland with the win, while Eisenhower fell to 5-1-2. Entering the final week of conference play, the Lions sat in third place, one point behind Shorewood (6-1-1) and three behind the Pirates.
Eisenhower began its week by playing to a 0-0 tie with Whitnall on Oct. 3.
The Lions hit the post twice in the second half and had a penalty kick saved by the Falcons goalkeeper.
"We came out a little flat and struggled through a sloppy first half," Troy said. "We lacked our usual crisp passing. In the second half, we came awake and totally controlled play. Whitnall was content to sit back in their defensive end of the field and constantly stifle our attacks.
"Whitnall did a good job in defending their goal and were very happy to come away with the scoreless tie."
The Lions bounced back from the loss to Pewaukee to take down Waukesha South, 4-0, on Oct. 8.
Brandon Dombrowski took a pass from J.R. Stehofsky off the chest and scored in the seventh minute to put Eisenhower ahead. In the 26th minute, Luke Duffin found the back of the net off a long cross from Hunter Hildebrand.
Dominic Quirk beat three defenders along the goal line and passed to Duffin for a goal in the 57th minute. Duffin finished his hat trick with a goal off a pass from Joey Audi in the 76th minute.
Jake Prodoehl earned the clean sheet in goal for the Lions, which entered the week at 12-1-3 overall.