The immediate past, the present and the future of the now two-time WIAA state D2 champion Whitefish Bay boys soccer team were all fully on display Saturday night in the Blue Dukes impressive title-clinching, 4-0 victory for a sound Elkhorn side at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
The immediate past included senior co-captain Jack Chandler, who finally got the scoring going in the 41st minute with a powerful side-pivot shot with an assist from sophomore Jimmy Zebell.
"We're just a very deep squad," he said. "Sophomore, junior, senior. We play hard. We try to do as we're asked and we find ways to get things done."
His fellow senior co-captain Nicholas Anguil-Andriacchi started, but played relatively few minutes because of his torn ligaments in the ankle that have plagued him for much of the season and because of the broken big toe he suffered in the semifinal win over Waukesha West the night before.
"We're always pretty confident because of our talent," he said. "We have a lot of players out here who are going to play D1 (in college)."
Meanwhile, the other co-captain, fleet and dangerous forward Zavier Ware, sat on the sidelines in a warm-up and a brace on his knee. He was sorely missed after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the sectional final victory over Cedarburg on Oct. 29.
But he was not forgotten, because it was he who got the trophy first from first-year coach Rob Dubinski, bringing it over to the wildly enthusiastic team huddle. He would carry it for a long time afterward, along with one of the celebratory team hats the Blue Dukes were presented shortly after the ceremonies were concluded.
"It was a very unfortunate thing (the injury)," said Ware, "but this was still the ultimate goal for us. One through 25, everyone stepped up. We just feel everyone on the team can get it done. When someone goes down, someone steps up and makes up for the loss."
Dubinski said that Ware lived the all-for-one attitude that carried the Blue Dukes to a 23-2-1 record and a second-consecutive state title and sixth overall crown for the program.
"His attitude was exceptional," said Dubinski. "He was always a leader on the field and he was on the sideline, too. Guys sometimes use something like that as an excuse to pout and feel sorry for themselves, but Zavier remained the leader he was for the last four years."
An attitude that will no doubt rub off on those still in the present, who will be tasked with the idea of a potential third state crown next fall, as the roster is populated with plenty of juniors and seniors.
Junior forward Matt Comiskey thundered home a blast from the left side in the 58th minute to all but finish the game at 2-0 and then, three minutes later, deftly chipped into the box a little pooch pass that fellow junior Jeremy Haddock headed home for an insurmountable 3-0 advantage. Comiskey understood how this team overcame a myriad number of injuries this fall using depth and the "one-through-25" attitude.
"Everyone came after us this year," he said. "It was difficult, but we rose above it all. We fought hard. Zavier went down, and everyone stepped up, and because of that we got it (the second straight state title)."
Junior defender Shawn Azcueta, whose peerless work in the back made sure that opportunities for the Elks (20-4-3) were few and far between, remembers sitting on the bench last season and watching that talented squad earn Bay's first state title in 20 years.
He's happy to be a part of this crown and looking forward to the opportunity at potentially another.
"This is great, this feels just great," he said. "We had to push aside everything (injuries and the pressure), and because we did, we're still standing on the last day of high school soccer (in Wisconsin)."
Junior forward Jackson Dryden, the star of the semifinal win over West the night before, was a part of last year's powerhouse. A sense of relief was all over his face after this hard-earned crown.
"This feels as good as the first one," he said, "because coming back and repeating is one of the hardest things to do in sports. To do it like we did just shows how deep we are. That coach trusts everyone on the team."
As the game got more out of hand in the second half, more of the reserves got a taste of state-title soccer. They included senior forward Felippe Cragg, who punched in a shot in the 80th minute for the final score of the game and the season, much to the delight of the large Bay contingent at Uihlein.
And it included diminutive freshman Patrick Comiskey, Matt's brother, who was brought up for the tournament from the junior varsity unit and who played in the final few minutes.
They all played their part, said Dubinski.
"You always hope you get a chance to do that (play reserves in a title game)," he said, "but it usually doesn't happen. It's just nice to reward the seniors who have put in a lot of work over their careers and to get a look at those who will help you in the future."
But as he contemplated this most pleasing championship moment, Dubinski realized that it was not a fluke, that serious work had gone into it. From the coaching staff, who he terms a "unit" and treats absolute equals, to the start-studded varsity, all the way down to the junior varsity one and two teams..
"This is something we implemented from day one," he said. "One through 25, we're not going to drop off in our level of play, because we believe all of them can play. If we have hope of staying a powerhouse it starts with those kids down on the JV1 and JV2 squads.
"This was a really nice day. We have had a target on our back all fall. But even with all that's happened, we knew that this was still a very attainable goal."
Carried out by the past, the present and the future of the program.
"It was big that we win this game," said the UW-Milwaukee-bound Anguil-Andriacchi. "We wanted to go out on top."