By Nick Beversdorf
Merrill faced more losses last week, but they continue to dig their heels in and never give up, showing resolve in the face of tough conference opponents.
On Tuesday (Sept. 20), Merrill traveled to Wisconsin Rapids where they lost to Lincoln High School 9-1. Rapids scored seven out of their nine goals in the first half, but Merrill was able to lock down the second half, allowing only two more goals and scoring one, courtesy of Taylor Hipke, unassisted at 51:44.
Merrill had five shots on goal compared to Rapids’ 14. Keeper Cody Kleinschmidt had five saves compared to Rapids’ four.
“A difficult game for us, but we played much better in the second half,” comments head coach Kyle Hahn. “I was happy to see us get a goal out of it, given that it looked like we were heading for a mercy rule result at the end of the first half. Proud of the way our guys responded by locking things down a bit more defensively to ensure we played the whole game.”
Tough game against Mosinee
On Friday night Merrill soccer faced off against Mosinee on the Sprinturf of Jay Stadium, eventually being defeated by Mosinee 3-1. A game that played out much differently than the previous, two of Mosinee’s three goals were the result of penalty kicks. If it wasn’t for those, things would have probably turned out much differently.
Merrill got the first goal of the game courtesy of Austin Zettler, unassisted at 18:15. Less than two minutes later, a penalty was called on Merrill and Mosinee got a penalty kick, which they succeeded in sending into the goal to tie the game. The rest of the half was a fierce but mostly balanced battle.
In the second half, at 57:25, Mosinee got their second goal and at 67:35 Mosinee got another penalty kick, which again was good. Neither team would score for the rest of the game.
Merrill had six shots on goal compared to Mosinee’s 10 and Keeper Mason Gebert had seven saves compared to Mosinee’s five.
“A physical game throughout and difficult to not feel a little hard done by the officiating crew,” adds Hahn. “Seeing two PK’s awarded in a game is rare and I felt we didn’t deserve to have the first one called against us. Could’ve been a very different game if it hadn’t been awarded. Credit to Mosinee for playing a tough and physical game, though. They’ve come a long way from last season and look to be on the upswing.
“A tough loss to swallow for sure, but not a season-breaker by any means. The guys need to dig deep now and find a bit of grit, determination, and resiliency as we enter the second half of Valley Conference play.”