Merrill kickers edged out by Evergreens
The Bluejay soccer team kicked off a new Valley season by hosting D.C. Everest on Thursday, and the teams played another barnburner. The Evergreens won the previous one in overtime, and this one threatened to match it.
Everest scored in the 13th minute on a close-range but the Bluejays took several shots at equalizing the score.
Merrill would out-shoot the Evergreens 10-6 with shots on goal for the game, but the boys were unable to rip the nets with a tying goal and lost 1-0.
“Our game against D.C. Everest was a good way to start out the (conference) year,” MHS coach Chris Behrens said. “In the 2012 season, we played them in our first Wisconsin Valley Conference game as well, and for those who don’t know we took them into overtime only to lose by a single goal.
“This year leading up to the game we were looking to get the win. The Everest soccer program has been a tough program for many years, and (Coach) C.J. (Hansen) has done a great job with them recently.
“Our program this year has very strong leadership from our seniors, and it was their goal to start out our conference season with a win. The first ten minutes of the game seemed to go in our favor, with our shots out-numbering Everest’s.
“In the 13th minute, they were able to sneak a goal past senior goalkeeper Nathan Beyer. Being an early goal it left a lot of time on the clock for us to work with.”
The Jays made some tactical adjustments after scoping out Everest’s offensive plan.
“We made a few adjustments to both our defense and midfield, because Everest had a strong attack specifically on the right side,” Behrens said. “These adjustments allowed us the space our forwards needed in order to create scoring opportunities.
“As the shots continued to pile on, we still were not able to put one in the back of the net. Our final chance came down to the last three minutes of the game, when we had our final corner kick. We laid our offense on heavily, however Everest goalkeeper Alex Pagel was able to keep us from scoring.”
The veteran MHS team hopes to have a WVC impact this year.
“It was a tough loss for our boys,” Behrens said. “They want to prove to the conference that Merrill is in the fight this year.”
Behrens pointed out kids that made key contributions in the game.
“Looking back on the game, Nathan Beyer had a great game, making some difficult saves,” he said.
“As far as field players, Kriss Philipp and David Pophal worked hard to create our many scoring opportunities. Overall this game shows that we are going to be in the battle to become Wisconsin Valley Conference champions.”