Bluejays grab Valley win over West
The Merrill boys soccer team dropped another tough Valley road game last Tuesday before breaking through on Thursday.
The Bluejays fell 2-1 under the lights to Wis. Rapids-tied for the WVC lead with Marshfield-but it just made them more determined to pull out a win in a season of close games other than the previous weekend’s triumphs in Eagle River.
They pulled it off on Thursday at the MARC, topping Wausau West 1-0. It was Merrill’s first Valley win since closing out the 2012 regular season with a 2-1 triumph over the Warriors. They also had two ties last year after not winning or tying in 2010 and 2011.
“We were so excited,” MHS midfielder Logan Brunett said. “We always want to beat anybody we can. We’ve always been aggressive with West, and always played our game against them.”
Carl Noland sent a through-ball in front of speedy Kriss Philipp, who popped it ahead, ran onto it and shot opposite post on the left side in the 60th minute.
Both teams had additional chances swallowed up by Merrill Nathan Beyer and West’s Pablo Pintor.
“It was a good game,” Brunett said. “Some shots could have gone if the keepers weren’t as good as they were.”
Beyer stopped 11 shots on goal, while Pintor blocked two.
Rapids quick start
Rapids jumped on Merrill for a 2-0 lead in the first 45 minutes. The Jays cut it to 2-1 when David Pophal threw a corner kick in front of the goal, and Brian Root headed it down low to the far corner.
“At first we came out a little lazy,” Brunett said. “We pushed through it, but it wasn’t enough. We came on too late.”
Rapids’ Keegan Crowley took a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute off a Nick Reber assist. Reber pushed it to 2-0 in the 45th minute on an unassisted score.
Beyer finished with 8 saves. Rapids’ Wes Plowman stopped two Merrill shots-on-goal. The Jays had four other shots.
The Jays roughed up Three Lakes 9-0 in the opener of the Northland Pines Invite on Saturday, Sept. 7, then backed it up with a 3-0 victory over their hosts for the tourney title.