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Bulldogswin 2-0 to reach title game
Notre Dame will play St. Dominic at2 p.m. in today's state championship match.
FENTON, Mo. -- A three-hour delay could not slow down Notre Dame's boys soccer team Friday night, as the Bulldogs marched on to the Class 2 final with a 2-0 win over West Plains.
Notre Dame (25-1) will face St. Dominic (16-11) in the championship today at 2 p.m.
St. Dominic beat Hannibal 3-1 in the other semifinal Friday.
Lightning pushed back play at the Anheuser-Busch Center, delaying all four semifinal games for classes 1 and 2. The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to play at 6 p.m.
"To get ready for the game, then find out we have to wait three hours, you have to get some rest, then you have to get ready for the game again," Notre Dame junior forward Ty Williams said. "It was tough, but all of us were able to stay focused for the game."
While the delay may have lasted just under three hours, the final 70 minutes of play must have seem like it lasted a lifetime for the Bulldogs. Senior Jack Wedemeier gave the Bulldogs a quick 1-0 lead off a cross from Williams less than 10 minutes into the game.
After the goal, West Plains (19-6-2) seized control of the possession and kept Notre Dame's fans on pins and needles the rest of the way.
"I was just hoping the time would go faster," Williams said. "The whole time I thought, 'We're almost done, we're almost done.' They kept having chances, but we finally held them off."
Wet conditions forced the game to be played on a turf field, which made for a fast field. Balls that normally would have stayed in play shot off the field, and the bounces became tricks in themselves.
The early goal gave the Bulldogs some added confidence on the foreign surface.
"It was very big," Williams said of the goal. "Especially because we only played a couple of games on this turf. It's really fast, and it was slick. That first goal was huge for us."
While the Bulldogs had the edge on the scoreboard, West Plains seemed to have the edge in play once it fell behind. The Zizzers may not have had many good chances on net, but they were able to keep things dangerous.
"West Plains was very good," Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn said. "They had a lot of speed. We didn't do a good job on their center offensive midfielder in the first half. At halftime, I made the call to man-mark him, and I thought it made a big difference. Chris McMillan was phenomenal on him."
West Plains looked like it may be able to knot the score when Notre Dame was called on a questionable foul call inside the box to give the Zizzers a penatly kick. Justin Scicluna, West Plains' top scorer, hit the ball just wide on the right side.
"That was huge," Wittenborn said. "I thought Ryan [Bass] showed good presence back there. His movement and the confidence he showed, the guy knew he had to make a perfect shot."
Notre Dame's defense continued to have trouble clearing the ball after the penalty kick, and West Plains stayed in Notre Dame territory much of the second half. Bass still did not have to make many saves in net, though.
Williams finally put the game out of reach with a rocket shot past the goalie with about 6 minutes left in regulation.
"That was huge," Wittenborn said. "I felt like we had it when we scored the second goal."
A win today will give the Bulldogs their second state title in the program's history. Notre Dame won the state title in 2002, the last time the Bulldogs made the state playoffs.
"It feels good, but we have to finish it," Williams said. "We haven't won anything yet."