The Bluejay soccer team nearly shocked second-place D.C. Everest last Tuesday, bouncing back from a 2-0 first-half deficit to finish within 2-1.
“We spotted them two goals in the first half, then buckled down,” MHS coach Doug Smith said. “They are the second-highest scoring team in the conference, so to shut them down to two shots (on goal) in the second half proves what we can do when we play our game.
“Even at the end of the game their coach came over and congratulated us, which is highly unusual for him.”
The turning point was Luis Mendoza’s score just a minute into the second half. Jordan Broesch crossed the ball from the right and Mendoza narrowly beat the goalkeeper to the ball, and hammered it under his reach.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Smith said. “It set the tone for the second half.”
Later in the half the Jays appeared to tie it up when a shot from Lucas Olson hit the crossbar and caromed down in the mouth of the goal.
“Because it hit the bar it had backspin and it bounced out of the goal into the keeper’s hands,” Smith said. “Their defense was snickering because they know they got away with one.”
Both goaltenders ended up with four saves. Jake Yonke was in goal for Merrill.
Everest had scored in the 16th and 35th minutes.
The Evergeens improved to 6-2 with the win, a half-game behind Wisconsin Rapids and tied with Wausau West, while Merrill fell to 0-7.
A controversial red card early in Monday’s game led to Merrill being forced to play down a man for the vast majority of Monday’s game at Marshfield.
The Tigers took advantage, scoring five times in the first half and pushing ti to 8-0 by game’s end.
“It really hurt being a man down,” Smith said. “They were so good at finding the open man. It was just brutal.
“The bottom line is we beat ourselves.”
Marshfield out-shot Merrill 20-3.
A defensive penalty in the box led to the ejection, after a player’s reaction to being yellow-carded on what appeared to Smith to be a clean but physical stop.