The Merrill boys soccer team has being playing better against Valley teams the second time through the WVC gauntlet, but the boys really stepped it up last week. They hung within a single goal of league-leading Stevens Point at home last Tuesday, then dropped a 3-0 game to Wisconsin Rapids that included an early own-goal and mis-kicked clear.
Point’s Cristian McDonald hit goals in the 30th and 47th minutes to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead, and Merrill’s Brian Root matched the opening-goal penalty kick with one of his own in the 61st minute.
“We came together as a team,” MHS coach Luis Mendoza said. “We passed the ball a lot more than we usually do. It’s always nice when the guys play as a team and not individually.
“For us to score on them and to keep it that close, we consider that a win.”
Trent Rathke made 10 saves.
Kickin’ in the rain
After an early own-goal by MHS, the Jays held Rapids off until the 38th and 45th minutes in a monsoon that was finally called in the 63rd minute.
“We started playing pretty good, but we’re not used to playing in the rain too much,” Mendoza said. “We held them for a bit and then the rain got harder. The field ended up pretty bad, with puddles all over the place and there was a big one in the middle. They basically cancelled it on us. We were controlling it at the point they called it, I guess for player safety.”
Rathke finished with eight saves and Rapids took 26 total shots. The Jays finished with eight shots, including three on goal.
“Trent had a really, really good game,” Mendoza said.
Merrill was 4-14-3 overall and 0-10 in the WVC heading into Tuesday’s action.