They're used to overachieving types at Whitefish Bay High School in all areas of endeavor — academics, civic involvement, sports.
And if they were to hold a graduation right now simply for sports teams, the 7-0, No. 1-ranked Blue Dukes boys soccer team would be magna cum laude at this point.
Because they have passed all the serious early tests that have been thrown their way with flying colors. They beat North Shore Conference nemesis and No. 2 Cedarburg, 2-0, in the league opener on Aug. 30, and then they swept the field and defended their title in the powerhouse Brookfield East Gusho Memorial Tournament over the holiday weekend.
They downed Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 2-0, on Sept. 1, Waukesha West, 1-0, on Sept. 2 and third-ranked Wauwatosa West, 2-0, in the title game on Sept. 3.
With all that behind them, Blue Duke coach Rob Dubinski took a depth breath and tried to ready his team for all the challenges that still lie ahead, throwing a little friendly jab at his old pal and former Blue Duke coach Jeff Worzella in the process.
"The nonconference schedule is just brutal," he said with a chuckle. "Worzella didn't exactly make it easy on us this season."
No, Worzella, who led the Blue Dukes to a WIAA D2 state title last season before stepping down for personal reasons, didn't, as the Blue Dukes will host No. 2 in D1 polls Arrowhead at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8.
Then there will be contests with Brookfield Central on Sept. 17 and with the state soccer empire and defending D1 champion Marquette in the regular-season closer on Oct. 15.
Depth and defense
But what these teams don't know is that Bay, with its strong emphasis on offense in the past, is now becoming known for its depth and its defense. The Blue Dukes have allowed only one goal in seven contests so far.
"The best part about this last week was that I was able to get a lot of people playing time," Dubinski said. "We've got a couple of small injuries so we were able to get a lot of quality playing time for a lot of people. We really did show our depth and conditioning with three games in three days like that (at the Gusho). I was really pleased with how they were able to handle the back-to-back-to-back nature of the tournament.
"It was a nice preview of what we can do."
The defense, Dubinski added, has been a pleasant surprise, led by returnees such as Jeremy Haddock and Shawn Azcueta and anchored by the impressive keeper, Elian Haddock. It has been little short of a stone wall, Dubinski said.
"It is an extremely talented unit, Dubinski said. "We lost a lot of good players last year, but guys have stepped up. We've just been able to move guys in there, and they've gotten the job done."
Over and over again.
In the Gusho final against Tosa West, midfielder Matt Comiskey, another veteran off the state title team, got both goals in the first half. The Trojans had a breakaway in the first minute of the game, but Elian Haddock made a strong save to prevent the goal. In the semifinal against traditional power Waukesha West, Jeremy Haddock got the only score in the first half.
Against Kettle Moraine Lutheran, Sam Marx got a goal in the first half and in the second half with both assists going to Jackson Dryden.
Repeating as champion in this event was a first important step in the road the Blue Dukes eventually want to take, Dubinski said.
"Like I said before," he noted, "we want to collect every piece of hardware that we can get."
Including a North Shore Conference title, a piece of hardware that eluded the Blue Dukes last season.
Bay went a long way toward securing that this season with the win over Cedarburg. Nicholas Anguil-Andriacchi (Dryden) notched a score at the eight-minute mark, and then Marx added some insurance in the 67th minute (Dryden again).
Dubinski is happy to have this game over with, as the Bulldogs denied Bay the league title last season.
"It was difficult to open with them right away, right out of the gate," he said. "We knew that they'd be physical, but the Madison games we had the week before got us prepared for what they would bring."
Highlighted players for the week included sophomore defender Marx, Dubinski said.
"We were looking for some good competition early," he said, "and we've got seven good games in the books. The kids are just jacked to be playing right now."