Merrill kicks it with best

The Bluejays girls soccer team picked up a couple of tough losses to top-line Valley teams last week.
They dropped a 3-0 game to SPASH at home last Tuesday and fell 4-0 at Wis. Rapids on Thursday.
“Despite the losses, we played two of the top teams in the Valley pretty well,” MHS coach Will Bialecki said. “On Tuesday, we cut their goals in half from the first time we played them.”
Point scored in the 9th minute and the 36th minute to take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
“We played pretty well,” Bialecki said. “Between those two it was pretty much a back-and-forth game. We had pretty good pressure on their defense for awhile, we just weren’t taking shots from outside. Our forwards moved the ball and our defense played well, too. We were playing good, but we have to start taking what they are giving us.
“At halftime we made a few adjustments. They scored midway through the second half, but besides that anything that got through the defense (goalkeeper) Breigha (Bienfang-Johnas) stopped. We were getting pretty good work out of our outside defenders and Claire (Peterson), who’s playing sweeper, is doing a good job.”
Bienfang-Johnas finished with 13 saves. Merrill put 10 shots on goal.
“Ellen (Donner) had a few good chances, and Sydney (Harris) had two good chances on the keeper,” Bialecki said.
Point’s Jen Hoerter finished with two goals, including the second in the 54th minute, and an assist. The Panthers improved to 16-2-1 after Thursday’s 2-0 win over Everest, and 8-2-1 in conference.
Rapid standstill
Merrill hung within a 1-0 tally of Rapids for the first half despite a goal just 1:31 into the night contest, but a trio of second-half goals pushed it to 4-0.
“Rapids has probably the best defense of any team we’ve played,” Bialecki said. “Their goalie is considered to be one of the best, but I don’t know how you’d figure that out because their defense shuts most things down. Sydney had a couple of chances, and on one their goalie came out farther than I’ve ever seen anyone come out.
“We looked faster than we have all year, especially on defense with Ashley (Millenbah) and Claire. They were keeping up with the fastest Rapids girls, although Rapids has more depth with I believe 21 girls on the varsity and they eventually wore us down.”
The Raiders improved to 8-1 in the WVC with the victory and 10-5-1 overall. Merrill dropped to 0-10 in the WVC and 3-14 overall.
The Raiders scored in the 51st, 70th and 75th minutes of the second half. Alexis Kniprath fed Lexi Panko for the final two scores, after netting the initial goal of the game.
Beinfang-Johnas ended up with 12 saves. Merrill put four shots on goal.

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