The MHS soccer team ran into Valley buzzsaw D.C. Everest on Thursday and suffered a 4-0 loss.
But the Bluejays picked up their game in Saturday’s Northland Pines Tournament, tying Iron Mountain, Mich., in a 2-2 contest, and falling 2-1 to their hosts, last year’s GNC champion by a half-game over Merrill.
The shorthanded Jays hung with the Eagles despite having to play a rested N.P. squad 20 minutes after the MHS opener, all in brutal heat.
“Merrill fielded a team with five of their Varsity starters out of the game due to illness and other reasons,” MHS coach Doug Smith said. “To complicate matters, Merrill was dropping subs due to injury from the physical first game. Bryce Litschauer was out with a bad back. Carlos Villa out with a strained groin, Logan Brunett sat out the rest of the day after getting hammered by a kid twice his height and weight. The Bluejays played with just one sub.
“Even so Merrill scored first with extra effort from Lucas Olson, who stole the ball from their keeper’s grasp and chipped their keeper for Merrill’s first goal. Pines, much fresher and having the luxury of six subs, pressured Merrill and before the game ended they scored twice.”
Pines scored the winning goal on a penalty kick with 7 minutes left.
A long goal by Olson assured MHS of a tie in the opener.
“The Bluejay varsity tied Iron Mountain in their first ‘rugby’ match, a very physical game,” Smith said. “Merrill scored first when intense pressure applied by Paul Theorin caused their defenseman to desperately clear. However, he shanked it and it bounded into their goal. Merrill’s second goal came on a direct kick where Olson launched a laser into the left upper 90 from 40 yards out, an amazing shot.”
Iron Mountain scored one of it goals with just five seconds remaining in the first half.
Evergreens under the lights
Undefeated Valley favorite Everest used experience to rack up four goals in the game.
“The Bluejays have a young team; Everest plays with zero freshman, two sophomores, and on the other end, twelve seniors, starting ten of them,” Smith said. “It was a game of two teams, two Merrill teams. When we played a passing game, we controlled the ball and the pace of the game.
“But when we resorted to boom-ball, Everest ran circles around us. The more we tagged after the ball, the more tired we became, the more boom-ball we played.
“Our defense once again shouldered the load. Though Everest fired many shots, few were all that spectacular. Sweeper John Breaman probably played the best game of his life. No one came up the middle.”
Everest ended up with an 18-4 advantage in shots on goal.