By Nick Beversdorf
Merrill soccer wrapped up the regular season after falling to Wisconsin Rapids-Lincoln on Thursday night (Oct. 13) with a final score of 7-1. Merrill sits in last place at 0-11-1 in the Valley Conference and 3-14-3 overall.
Rapids scored more of their goals towards the second half, getting three in the first and four in the second. Rapids got the ball in at 6:38, 26:27, 42:46, 54:52, 55:50, 60:49 and 74:54. Merrill got their lone goal of the game from Devon Annis’s penalty kick at 75:28.
“Defense has been our Achilles heel all season long. We did a good job in the first half of not giving up strings of goals, but were unable to replicate that in the second half,” comments head coach Kyle Hahn. “There was a stretch of six minutes towards the beginning of the second half where we gave up three goals in a span of six minutes; two of them less than a minute apart. Fortunately, we were able to stick one in ourselves to keep them from getting the shutout. Devon Annis got fouled in the box and converted from the spot.”
Keeper Mason Gebert had 13 saves compared to Rapids’ two and Merrill had three shots on goal compared to Rapids’ 20.
It was also Senior Night and 12 seniors, including three Austins, lined the field at halftime, recognized and congratulated by fans, friends and parents.
“Ashwaubenon will be a tough first round playoff test for us,” adds Hahn. “They beat Wausau West 1-0 and tied Marshfield 2-2 this season and their record suggests they are more than capable of holding their own and taking it to teams. We will go in with a defensive-minded approach and look for opportunities to counter and get up the field quickly in transition. One thing I definitely expect us to bring to this game is hard work. Our guys have been getting kicked around all season, but they haven’t let that keep them from working hard during practices and games. We’ll put on our hard hats again this week and see if we can spring a little Cinderella surprise on the hosts.”
Merrill will travel to Ashwaubenon on Thursday, Oct. 20, to face them in the first round of the playoffs, game to start at 5 p.m.
Loss to SPASH
SPASH defeated Merrill on Tuesday (Oct. 11) with a final score of 7-2. Merrill was able to make two excellent goals at the start of the second half to keep themselves in the game and avoid another shutout.
The first half was mostly controlled by SPASH, scoring at 0:57, 8:05, 12:50 and 25:45. SPASH got an early goal in the second at 46:39 but Merrill’s Zach Weix got a goal in at 47:08 assisted by Austin Zettler, and then Zettler himself got a goal at 48:37, unassisted. SPASH scored two more goals at 54:31 and 66:08 to round out the scoring.
Gebert had 13 saves compared to SPASH’s two and Merrill had four shots on goal compared to SPASH’s 20.
“I was happy we got a couple of goals out of this game,” Hahn said. “The guys deserved both of them and, for the most part, played better than the scoreline indicates. Zach Weix finished a beautiful chip shot up and over their keeper off an excellent through ball from Austin Zettler. Austin got himself on the score sheet after making a 40+ yard run in and around SPASH’s midfield and defense. He just kept making moves around them and rewarded himself for all of that hard work with a tidy finish.”