Oregon was not ready for its season to be over.
So the Panthers did something about it.
The Oregon boys soccer team netted an equalizer in the second overtime period and went on to win a shootout against Elkhorn in a WIAA Division 2 sectional final on Saturday, Oct. 30, at Sauk Prairie High School.
Oregon advanced to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament with the victory.
The Panthers trailed 2-1 with 10 minutes left in overtime before freshman Kellen Diercks tied the game at 2-2 in the 90th minute. Oregon outlasted Elkhorn 4-3 on penalty kicks.
“When you look back at it we were just at a point where we were 10 minutes away from being done,” Oregon head coach Chris Mitchell said. “Quite honestly, I don’t think the boys were prepared to be done. They wanted another week. They wanted another week together. They just love one another so much and think that got them through.”
Oregon received the No. 1 seed in the WIAA Division 2 state tournament and will play No. 4 River Falls on Friday, Nov. 5, at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee at 4:30 p.m. River Falls enters the state semifinal game with a 13-5-2 record playing out of the Big Rivers Conference. River Falls was unranked by the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association's latest Division 2 rankings.
“We don’t know a ton about River Falls yet, we know some,” Mitchell said. “We’ll know more here soon. We’re confident they’re not going to be a pushover team.”
No. 2 Whitefish Bay takes on No. 3 Brookfield Central in the other semifinal match on Friday. The Division 2 championship game is set for Saturday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. Whitefish Bay previously held the No. 1 spot in the latest WSCA rankings.
Top-seeded Oregon (21-0-2) — ranked No. 2 in Division 2 — led 1-0 at halftime after junior Mason Diercks scored on a free kick right before the break in the 39th minute. Elkhorn equalized with a goal in the second half.
Both defenses held strong the rest of regulation.
The second-seeded Elks (16-2-1) — ranked No. 3 in the WSCA D2 rankings — broke the 1-1 deadlock with a score in the first overtime period.
Oregon went into the break of the overtime period — which is split into two 10 minute halves — knowing it was do or die.
Kellen Diercks came through for the Panthers, knotting the game at 2-2 with a goal right out of the break in the 90th minute.
“As we got together with 10 minutes to go we really had to dig down and get our belief back and our system in our head,” Mitchell said. “We made a small change to our formation. We just needed to try something new. Magically we found the net less than a minute into the second overtime.”
Elkhorn won the shootout coin flip and opted to shoot first to try to score and put pressure on Oregon.
But senior goalkeeper Casey Farrar came up with a save and junior Noah Malcook put it in the back of the net to put Oregon up 1-0.
“Farrar came up with a big save and that immediately puts us in the driver seat,” Mitchell said. “We bury ours and the pressure is on them the rest of the way.”
The Elks’ second shooter missed wide right, while Oregon senior Eli Lehmann converted his kick to put Elkhorn in a massive hole down 2-0 after four kicks. The Elks got one back when their third shooter scored and Oregon senior Alex Rodriguez missed his attempt wide.
Elkhorn tied the shootout at 2-2 the next kick, but Kellen Diercks responded with a score to put the Panthers up at 3-2. Needing a make, the Elks’ fifth shooter found the back of the net to deadlock PKs at 3-3.
Then, it was all on Mason Diercks’ shoulders.
He delivered a penalty kick to send Oregon to its sixth state tournament since 2012.
Mason and Kellen Diercks have combined to score three of Oregon’s last four goals and went a perfect 2-2 in PKs.
“Big day for the Diercks boys,” Mitchell said.
Elkhorn defeated Oregon 2-0 in a Division 2 sectional final game in 2019. Last season the Panthers were moved up to Division and lost in a sectional semifinal.