Eagles’ Brady Snedden (No. 20) and Sam Gremban (No. 12) crash the goal on a corner kick as Sturgeon Bay goalie Joe Wind goes high to make a save. —Photos By Kailyn Hogenmiller
Eagles’ Brady Snedden (No. 20) and Sam Gremban (No. 12) crash the goal on a corner kick as Sturgeon Bay goalie Joe Wind goes high to make a save. —Photos By Kailyn Hogenmiller
The Northland Pines boys soccer season came to end one victory short of playing in the Division 4 State Championship.

The Eagles lost to Sturgeon Bay 5-1 in the semifinal last Thursday during the 38th annual Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Boys Soccer State Tournament at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.

Both teams had to deal with a cold playing field, as the temperature at game time was 25 degrees and the wind was out of the northwest at 25 mph. 

Northland Pines, seeded third in the four-team championships, took an early 1-0 lead at the 16:55 mark when a Sturgeon Bay defender failed to properly clear the ball in front of the net and it got past Sturgeon Bay goalie Joe Wind for an Eagles goal.

But Sturgeon Bay, seeded second, didn’t let the mistake bother them, as Adison Benzinger scored on a free kick from 34 yards to the far post at the 29:10 mark to tie the game at 1-1.

A little over 7 minutes later, Sturgeon Bay’s Carson Dvorak scored on a 22-yard shot to the right of Eagles goalie Colby Kruse. 

Sturgeon Bay kept the momentum late in the first half, getting another goal at the 41:32 mark from D.J. Lenius following a corner kick to make it 3-1.

Northland Pines coach Mark Pinski told his team to continue to work hard despite the two-goal deficit.

“At halftime, I said I don’t care what happens,” said Pinski. “You keep your heads up, you keep working.” 

The Clippers got two second half goals from Spencer Hubbard to make the final 5-1. 

Pinski said the Eagles continued to play hard in the second half.

“They worked hard like they always do. I’m super, super proud of them,” said Pinski.

Kruse made six saves in the game on 18 Sturgeon Bay shots. Sturgeon Bay goalie Joe Wind had to make just one save on two Pines shots. Pines had one corner kick to nine for Sturgeon Bay. 

Sturgeon Bay took home the gold ball by defeating top-seeded The Prairie School 2-1 in overtime in the Division 4 championship game Saturday. Max Yde had the goal for The Prairie School. 

Eli Dietzel of Sturgeon Bay scored the tying goal and Dvorak scored the game-winner in the second overtime period. 

Pines was in good company at State. This was Sturgeon Bay’s eighth trip to State, with the last trip in 2018 when they lost in the semifinals. This was The Prairie School’s ninth trip to State, with their last trip in 2017 when they won the title.

Northland Pines, coached by Mark Pinski, qualified for the State Tournament for the eighth time and for the first time since 2007. Each of the Eagles’ previous experiences came in Division 2. They attempted to advance beyond the semifinals for the first time. 

The Eagles cruised past Columbus Catholic 8-2 in the Nekoosa Sectional final played at Wisconsin Rapids to earn their berth in the tournament field. They tied for first place in the Great Northern Conference this season with Medford. 

Northland Pines seniors on the team included Lawson Lau, Alex Sternhagen, Liam Oas, Brady Snedden, Brett Wilkins, Bjorn Luebke, Zach Maillette and Jesse Ebert.

Other players were juniors Colby Kruse, Trevor Romatoski, Jason Ritter, Jack Gremban and Cooper Cox; sophomores Owen Uebe, Sam Gremban and Mason Hogenmiller; and freshman Ryan Muench.