Right out of the box, the Valley has provided all the challenge the Bluejay soccer team thought it would.
Merrill was mercy-ruled 10-0 in the final minutes of last Thursday’s game at D.C. Everest, then lost 7-0 at home to Marshfield on Tuesday.
Marshfield scored just a minute-and-a-half into Tuesday’s game and tallied its last goal with a minute left, meaning the Jays hung within 5-0 for 87-plus minutes.
“They are a good team,” MHS coach Luis Mendoza said. “They have a lot of players on varsity. Having fresh legs coming in all the time is an advantage.”
Six different players scored for the Tigers. Leo Steiner scored the fourth and seventh goals, Thomas Kruger had a goal and an assist, and Alex Sainterme set up two goals.
Marshfield showed superior passing and control throughout, and built a 5-0 lead by halftime with goals in the 2nd, 9th, 20th, 28th and 40th minutes. Other than the final rebound goal, Merrill held the Marshfield to one second-half score, in the 51st minute.
“We need ball control,” Mendoza said. “We don’t pick our heads when we try to pass. We try to get rid of the ball and we kick it right to them.
“We need to communicate a little bit more. Sometimes we don’t let a player know when someone is coming and they take the ball from us. We have a really, really young team. We are going to get to know our players.”
Mendoza was impressed with his Trent Rathke substitution.
“I feel like Trent did a really good job in goal in the second half,” he said.
The Evergreens racked up six goals in the first half, starting in the seventh minute and concluding with two in the 38th minute. Merrill held D.C.E. scoreless for most of the second half before Everest broke free in the 76th minute and tacked on three in a three-minute span late.
“Their program has always been top-of-the-line,” Mendoza said. “We knew what we were going to face, but we didn’t know how to stop them. We have to focus more on defense than on offense.
“Their team is very, very balanced. When they made substitutions, it didn’t seem like they did.”
Everest scoring was paced by Sam Brink (4 G, 1 A), Seth Jaglinski (3 G) and Chris Babiarz (2 G, 1 A).