Third-year Whitefish Bay girls soccer coach Rob Dubinski knows all about great expectations, having led the dominant Blue Duke boys squad to a second straight WIAA state Division 2 title last fall.
So when he says this season's Blue Duke girls have a chance at great things, people stand up and take notice.
As they did last weekend, when the top-ranked Blue Dukes went up to a showcase event in Wisconsin Dells, where they blasted Milton, 7-1, on April 7, and overpowered Eau Claire Memorial, 3-0, on April 8.
And the truly interesting thing about it all is that due to a variety of circumstances, Dubinski and Bay didn't have an official full team practice until two days after those games.
"It was a great start considering our practice situation," said Dubinski. "We had an early spring break, two school trips and variety of illnesses. But we just went out there and really took it to them."
They just might be doing that a lot this season, as off a 15-5-3 WIAA regional championship squad of a year ago, they return 18 starters, plus like the boys team has done the last couple of seasons, they have added two Bay students who were on high level club teams in the spring a year ago.
"Twenty experienced hands, overall," said Dubinski. "This is easily the most experienced and deepest team I have worked with since I've been here at Bay."
The team will be headed up by tri-captains, all defenders.They include junior Haley Gama, and seniors Emma-Kate Stecker and Sam Loyda.
They are leading a team that is also very energized.
"Very motivated," said Dubinski. "We have a lot of kids who have been here since their freshmen and sophomore years who got good experience from the state tournament run two years ago. They expect to make another state run."
But first, there's a more basic goal.
"The fact that we've lost conference the last two years has really been eating at them," said Dubinski. "These girls are the hungriest that I've seen."
Defending state D2 champion Homestead won the league title last season at 7-0 while Bay was second at 4-1-2.
Seniors on the team include forwards Taylor Kerwin, Caroline Skotarzak, Lily Jefferson, Lauren Behnke and Daria Ghorbanpoor; midfielders Kendall Martens and Britney Lippe and defenders Fiona Joyce and Brianna Murano
The two returning club players are junior midfielders Ali Menard and Bailey Faulkner. Junior Grace James is returning at keeper this season.
The Blue Dukes, who took on nonconference opponents Shorewood on April 11 and New Berlin Eisenhower on April 13, are also a close-knit, much to the pleasant surprise of Dubinski.
"We were concerned about chemistry early on," he said, "but they were able to mesh and play so well together right from the first practice. It was very encouraging."
That showed up in the games at the Dells. No stats were available, but Dubinski was pleased with the level of play right from the start.
"We're very excited to get the season going," said Dubinski.