Merrill kickers win, or lose tight
The Bluejay boys soccer team stepped up and won 2-of-3 games in the Wausau West tourney on Sept. 14.
But despite grabbing an early lead in last Tuesday’s battle with Wausau East to stay out of the Valley cellar, the Lumberjacks rallied for a 2-1 win.
Merrill is 1-5 in the WVC, and three of those losses are by one goal. East is 2-4-1.
“We knew this was a must win game, however the team did not come out with as much fire as we expected,” MHS coach Chris Behrens said. “We were slow to the ball, and slow to set up on defense. Regardless, Kriss Philipp was able to score in the seventh minute of the game.
“This is normally a great advantage to our team to be up by a goal or two. Because of this we seemed to be a little overconfident, and relaxed a little more than normal. Wausau East was able to score twice within five minutes with the wind in their favor. Being one goal down at halftime, we made a few changes to provide our team with more offensive opportunities. We were able to continue attacking the net, however were unsuccessful in bringing the game to a tie.”
Philipp’s goal was unassisted. Nikhiel Biswas tied it in the 34th minute, and Zang Chang scored the winner in the 37th minute.
Nathan Beyer had 15 saves for Merrill, while Bryce Taylor made five stops for East.
The Bluejays pulled out a 1-0 triumph over Menomonie with just six seconds left in that Saturday opener. David Pophal attempted a long shot and Kennan Stellingworth pounced and scored when the ball was mishandled.
“We played well the entire 50 minute game,” Behrens said. “We had multiple scoring chances early on, but couldn’t seem to put them in the back of the net. Finally we caught our break and put a goal in within the last minute of the game to take the lead 1-0. The game was very physical, and the boys responded well and continued to play hard.”
Waupaca scored the only goal of the second game with a late penalty kick.
“The game didn’t start as we had hoped,” Behrens said. “Nathan Beyer continued to keep Waupaca out of the net with their multiple scoring opportunities early in the game.
“Throughout the game we struggled with our midfield play, however we were able to fix it by the second half. The game was even up until the end where a controversial penalty kick was awarded to Waupaca.”
The Bluejays finally broke free for a 4-0 triumph over Mosinee in the day’s final game.
“Mosinee has always put a good team on the field whenever we meet,” Behrens said. “Our boys started out the game slow, they weren’t going to the ball as hard as we would have liked. We were able to sneak one in the goal before the end of the first half and make the necessary adjustments at halftime.”
Pophal scored a left-footed shot from the 18 in the first half, then opened the second half with a shot from the six. Philipp also dribbled close before feeding Ty Lorbiecki for a 3-0 lead. Pophal closed it out with a PK.