By Nick Beversdorf
With the slate cleared and everything back to 0-0, Bluejay varsity girls soccer went up to Rhinelander yesterday to take part in their first playoff game of the year. Unfortunately, the game did not go their way as they lost with a final score of 4-0.
Even with this loss, the Bluejays performed significantly better than last year, when Rhinelander defeated them by a much larger margin of 10-0. Gabby Schlegel was back defending the goal after her red card restrictions expired, and she held the line with 18 saves out of 22 shots on goal.
After a sluggish start for Merrill and a Rhinelander goal within the first minute of play, the Bluejays got in gear and started making offensive plays that culminated in four total shots, three of them on goal. Yet, the Bluejays simply couldn’t get those shots in the net and after Rhinelander’s fourth goal with 3:30 left in the second half, Merrill’s defeat was all but certain.
“Well, 4-0 doesn’t look that great, but we played extremely well; had a lot of good passing plays, and overall good defense,” comments head coach Stephanie Nelson. “We started a little slow, so their first goal was in the first minute, but we calmed down a bit, and they went scoreless until 11:55 left in the half. After halftime, they got the realization that we had a lot of individual match-ups that were in our favor and that we should have some confidence and go at their weaknesses. We ended up getting a couple shots on goal, but we also possessed the ball on our offensive half a lot more after that point.
“Overall, a lot better than the result of last year, and a much better way to end our seniors’ careers. I’m proud of how they played and how they developed throughout the year.”