Final Valley week a microcosm of Bluejay soccer season
The Bluejay kickers had two last chances to collect a Valley win last week, but despite some excellent play-even dominant field play at times-victories to both Wausau teams eluded them.
“It’s frustrating, that’s what it is, because we have to believe we could beat these teams,” MHS coach Doug Smith said.
Merrill scored first in a 3-1 home loss to Wausau West on Tuesday, then suffered a 3-2 overtime defeat at Wausau East on Thursday.
East had taken a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, but the Jays knotted it up on Luis Mendoza’s kick off a Lucas Olson assist in the 32nd minute.
The Lumberjacks regained the lead just six minutes into the second half, but the freshman connection of David Pophal to Logan Brunett forged another tie with just 8 minutes left in regulation.
“That goal was remarkable because both were playing defensive midfield positions, but they both wanted it,” Smith said.
“We out-played Wausau East statistically other than score. We owned the second half.
“We had five shots on goal in overtime and couldn’t get any in. They had a breakaway and the bottom line is they put it in on the ground, far left corner, game over. By all rights we should have won that game; it just didn’t happen.”
East’s Alex Lange scored the game-winner with nine minutes elapsed in OT.
A win would have tied Merrill with East in the WVC standings at 1-11.
Mendoza converted a penalty kick brought on by a Jordan Broesch attempt in the 11th minute to give the Jays a 1-0 lead that held up for most of the half.
But the Warriors’ Elliott Markwardt and Jordan Penn both notched goals in the final three minutes before the break for a 2-1 West lead.
Then Penn set up Markwardt a final time in the 48th minute.
“We had five shots (on goal) in the second half and they had two, but they scored one,” Smith said.
Smith felt that more of Merrill’s attempts may have scored in the wake of the Broesch incident.
“Jordan got the ball on the left side pretty deep, and the keeper came out and slid,” he said. “Jordan chipped the ball over him and jumped over, but the keeper grabbed Jordan by the leg and tackled him. According to the rules that’s a red card. Luis converted but the point is he should have been carded.”
If West’s Phillip Kraft had been carded, he would have been ejected from the game and the Warriors would have been forced to play a man short the final 70 minutes of the game. They could have brought in another goalkeeper.
Kraft finished with 10 saves compared to four for Merrill’s Austin Gartmann.
West ended up 9-3 in the WVC, tied for second place.