Loss at state can’t dull luster of a great season

IT CAME TO A disappointing end, but the Plymouth High School boys soccer team put together a season they can point to with pride, now and in the future.

Panther hopes for a state title came crashing to an end in a hard-fought double overtime loss to defending state champion Delavan- Darien in the WIAA semifinals at the Kohler Engines Stadium in Milwaukee’s Uihlein Soccer Park.

As they had all season, the Panthers battled Delavan-Darien evenly up and down the pitch for all but the last 10 minutes of the match.

Despite that heartbreak, the team put together a great record, with a 17-4-2 overall record, an East Central Wisconsin Conference title and regional and sectional titles on their log. The loss in the state semifinal snapped an 11-game winning streak that propelled the Panthers to the elite of state high school boys soccer.

All of that may not yet take away the sting of the final defeat, but over time all of those accomplishments will shine brighter and brighter for these young men.

The trip to the state tournament capped not just a long, hard season but years of dedication, learning and effort.

It was Plymouth’s first trip to the state tournament since 2010 – when they lost in the semifinals to another defending state champion, Fox Valley Lutheran. And they fell short of matching the state title won by the 2002 Panther boys soccer team, but it was still a great season and a great accomplishment nonetheless.

It reflects brightly on all of the team members as well as the wide support system they had throughout the school and community.

There were, of course, the proverbial

‘soccer moms’ helping them to reach this high level of achievement, but there was much, much more.

Along with the moms, there were dads who dedicated long hours of support and made the investment necessary to bring success.

There were family members – brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more – who lent their support as well.

There were dedicated coaches at all levels, from beginning players to the high school varsity, who molded and shaped these young men into excellent players and ultimately a strong team that reached the highest levels.

All of that support was evident as the Panthers made their run to state and fell just short at state. That enthusiastic support was cited by players and coaches as a key factor in the Panthers’ magical run.

The old saying says that victory has 100 parents and failure is an orphan. In the case of the Panther boys soccer team, their victory had thousands of parents, family and friends – and so does their unfortunate loss as well.

This team has made the community proud and all who helped them reach their pinnacle can take great pride in playing a part in that accomplishment as well – and no bitter defeat can ever take that away.

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