By Nick Beversdorf
On Monday, Merrill varsity soccer faced off against Antigo on the Jay Stadium Stadium Sprinturf, walking away with a shutout 8-0 victory. Merrill dominated the first and last 20 minutes of the game with Antigo (namely the keeper) keeping the offensive onslaught contained during the middle 50 minutes.
Merrill got the ball rolling at 7:03 minutes when Austin Zettler snagged the first goal, unassisted. About 30 seconds later Merrill got another goal from Joe Ladewig, assisted by Austin. About 10 minutes later Joe got another goal, this time unassisted at 17:06.
“Antigo sat off a little and I think that gave our guys almost too much time on the ball,” comments head coach Kyle Hahn. “The longer you have on the ball, the more opportunity there is to overthink and get caught not making decisions quick enough. The coaching staff stresses in practice and games that we need to play simple. The best thing our guys can do is play the passes that are available to them, combine when and where it’s on, and attack the space that’s given to them. There was a stretch tonight where we were just trying to do too much and it resulted in a 47 minute gap between goals.”
For the next 47 minutes, Merrill struggled to land that crucial goal, although they had no problem, for the most part, keeping the ball in Antigo territory. Merrill had 24 shots on goal compared to Antigo’s one, which also doubled as Mason Gebert’s only save of the night.
Merrill got back into the scoring routine at 64:45 with Hunter Wallace sending one into the net, assisted by Austin. Austin himself got a goal, unassisted at 75:11 and less than a minute later at 76:01 Joe got yet another goal, again assisted by Austin. At 82:26 Hunter got another goal, assisted by Austin and Fritz Piepenbrok rounded out the night’s scoring with a goal at 84:05, assisted by Zach Weix.
“In all reality, this score line flatters us a bit,” adds Hahn. “We weren’t quite as sharp as we were last Friday against Pacelli. The focus and touch wasn’t quite at the levels we expect, but the guys found a way to bag some goals.