Merrill kickers come up short in home opener with Phillips
The Bluejay soccer team fell behind 6-3 against visiting Phillips on Tuesday night, but there were no three-goal heroics to bail them out the way they had in the opener at Medford. A late goal by Ty Lorbiecki, set up by a through-ball from Trent Rathke, left the final at 6-4.
“We thought we’d have it a little easier than that,” MHS coach Luis Mendoza said. “We didn’t know Phillips style of playing. I think we could have done a lot more. We made mistakes and they made us pay for them. But I think we will learn from our mistakes and improve on what we did.”
The Loggers jumped out to a 2-0 lead, although Merrill forward Brian Root was able to cut it to 2-1 in the 24th minute with an assist from Ryan Grieser. Phillips converted the first of two penalty kicks early in the second half, but Lorbiecki cut it to 3-2 just three minutes later. After the Loggers pushed it to 5-2 in a three-minute span midway through the second half, Joe Ladewig quickly answered to bring it back within two goals.
But Phillips received a gift PK with less that 10 minutes to go, and Shawn Brown converted it for his fifth goal of the game and a 6-3 lead. Lorbiecki took his time on a wide open shot and buried it with five minutes left, but that would be Merrill’s last conversion despite frantic late chances.
“We weren’t picking up our heads before making a pass, just getting rid of it,” Mendoza said. “Playing kickball, basically. We weren’t talking as much to let others know where players were on the field and who was covering them.”
The absence of key players Keenan Stellingworth and Devin Annis, out temporarily with injury, may have led to some of the communication problems.
Merrill visits D.C. Everest on Thursday night under the lights.