A late goal in the second half helped the Milwaukee women’s soccer team win the semifinal bout against the Oakland Grizzlies on Thursday night. The win qualified the Panthers for the Finals against Northern Kentucky.
Milwaukee controlled much of the offense and created several good looks at the net. Shot attempts were made by several Panthers, including an angle shot by Callie O’Donnell that erupted Engelmann Field.
The two teams went scoreless in the first half. The Grizzlies goalkeeper displayed an exceptional effort for her team with five saves, half of her total by the end of the game.
Milwaukee Head Coach Troy Fabiano talked about the start, citing the team’s aggressiveness out of the gates.
“I wouldn’t call it a slow start,” said Fabiano. “It was slow-going and more of a possession-style game. I think the girls who were looking to shoot, just their last touch wasn’t their preparation touch.”
Substitutions gave the Panthers a boost. Lourdes Onwuemeka came in aggressive, dribbling the ball along the sides to find an opening and making plays for her teammates.
Teammates Maddie Tetzke and Anna Smalley took advantage of the leadership from Onwuemeka by getting in range. The Panthers pushed for close shots at the 69:00 and 78:00 marks.
“We talked a little bit about being cleaner at halftime,” said Fabiano. “I felt that in the second half we were a little more dangerous. It’s a funny game. You can be more dangerous than you want when you don’t score.”
Oakland responded to Milwaukee with long hauls from several players before the Panthers made their first and only goal of the night when Smalley ran straight into a floose-ball off an end line serve.
The Panthers will play Northern Kentucky for the championship on Saturday night. Northern Kentucky defeated the No. 2 seeded Detroit Mercy earlier in the evening.
The game kicks off at 6 p.m. at Engelmann Stadium and will be broadcast on ESPN3.