After spending much of the evening trying to play catch-up, the Waukesha West boys soccer team was so close; so very close, to punching its ticket into the WIAA Division 2 state championship game.
But in an instant, it was all over.
Cameron Roessler scored the equalizer in the 69th minute but Jackson Dryden scored his second goal of the contest in the 87th, leading reigning champion Whitefish Bay back to the title game with a 2-1 state D2 semifinal victory Nov. 4 at Uihlein Soccer Park.
"They wanted it so bad," West coach Marcel Feenstra said. "They showed it in the game and that's all you can ask for as a coach. I'm proud of them. But (Whitefish Bay), that's a top-notch team, they're really good. And we were even with them so I can be proud."
West caught a break in the eighth minute when a goal by Dryden was wiped out by an offside call.
But he made up for it seven minutes later, redirecting a free kick from Matthew Comiskey past German Ferria to put the Blue Dukes in front.
Unable to cash in on their few early opportunities, the Wolverines finally got on the board in the 69th minute when Mark Durand found Rossler for the tying goal.
"It was just kind of a relief to know we were back in it and not going to go out 1-0," Roessler said. "It got us going, but I think we just played too much defense the rest of the way."
Comiskey narrowly missed giving the Blue Dukes the lead when hit the cross bar in the 80th minute, but just when it seemed like overtime was inevitable, Dryden struck again, this time on a one-timer set up by Comiskey and Nick Anguil-Andriacchi, putting Whitefish Bay up, 2-1, with just under three minutes to play.
"One goal ended our whole season," said West keeper German Ferreira, who recorded four saves. "Being a senior, it's really sad to know this is my last game but we played really well, they played really well. It was a pretty even match."
The loss closed West's season with a 14-5-2 record, including a 4-2-1 mark in the Classic 8, which hasn't appeared in a state championship game since the 2010 season.
Bay took a 22-2-1 mark into the title game against Elkhorn, which defeated New Richmond, 2-1, earlier on Nov. 4. Bay defeated Elkhorn, 4-0, to defend its state title on Nov. 5 ( see separate story).
"We know there is no team that can stop us from getting chances," Whitefish Bay coach Rob Dubinski said. "So we have to make sure we finish on two or three of our opportunities."