By Nick Beversdorf
There was no shortage of determination or effort last week, but Merrill soccer eventually fell to both Marshfield and SPASH to bring the team to 0-5 in the valley conference.
On Tuesday (Sept. 13) Merrill faced off against Marshfield, with Marshfield emerging victorious 10-3. Marshfield got the first goal in at 12:40 but Merrill got in their first goal about five minutes later courtesy of Austin Burgener. Things took a bad turn, however, as Marshfield fired off two goals less than a minute apart at 25:41 and 26:01. They got two more goals, one at 32:14 and another at 40:00 before Zach Weix scored Merrill’s last score of the half at 42:28, assisted by Hunter Wallace.
The second have did not go much better, with Marshfield scoring five more goals, three of them within the span of two minutes (46:09, 47:18, 48:10). They got another goal at 65:59 and the last one at 74:27. Merrill managed to have the last say with another unassisted goal by Burgener at 87:51.
“This was a hard game to swallow,” comments head coach Kyle Hahn. “Before the game, we were only sitting three points behind Marshfield. A win would have seen us jump them in the standings, but it wasn’t meant to be. They have an experienced team with a lot of seniors and they made us pay. Mental lapses really cost us this game. A seven minute stretch in the first half and a three minute stretch in the second half saw us give up six of their 10 goals. We’ve got to be more aggressive and not settle for mediocrity.”
Merrill had eight shots on goal compared to Marshfield’s 26. Keeper Mason Gerbert had a total of 13 saves with Cody Kleinschmidt putting in an extra three saves.
“We’ve got to stop being okay with going places and getting beat,” adds Hahn. “We need to be better and I know this team is capable of that. This loss will not define us as a team and we’ll do everything possible to make sure we turn it around when they come to town in early October.”
On Thursday, the Bluejay boys faced off against SPASH under the lights of Jay Stadium, losing with a final score of 3-0. Although a loss, a much better performance, especially in the second half, prevented a repeat of the Marshfield game earlier.
All three of SPASH’s goals occurred in the first half (14:32, 20:31, 37:56). Merrill had six shots on goal compared to SPASH’s 20. Keeper Cody Kleinschmidt had a terrific day at the net with 17 saves.
“This is the type of performance we’re looking for from the guys day in and day out,” adds Hahn. “A few mistakes and mental lapses in the first half cost us, but the guys had a sense of resolve and steel about them tonight that gave SPASH more of a run for their money than I think they expected. In recent weeks, especially Wednesday after giving up 10 goals to Marshfield, we’ve talked a lot about being sound defensively and getting behind the ball to contain the attack. The guys’ focus was on point for the most part tonight, definitely in the second half. SPASH has a good team that can easily put goals in on any team in the Valley. They’re a consistently proven power in the Valley, but we didn’t back down from the challenge.
“I’m proud of how the team responded tonight. After Tuesday’s game against Marshfield, it would be easy to roll over and let SPASH do their thing, but we came out with grit, determination, and a bit of a chip on our shoulder that saw us shut them out and create good chances for ourselves in the second half.”
Merrill boys soccer will face WI Rapids-Lincoln at Rapids on Tuesday at 7 p.m.