Merrill kickers push Wausau teams
The Bluejay soccer team closed out its Valley season last week with a pair of losses to Wausau schools that were closer then the final showed.
They dropped a 4-0 contest at West on Tuesday, then fell 6-2 to East at home on Thursday after giving up goals on 2-of-3 penalty kick attempts in the first 22 minutes.
“We were pretty solid,” MHS coach Luis Mendoza said of the East game. “We were playing smart. Scoring two goals on the #1 keeper in the conference reflects that we kept pressuring their defense.
“It’s tough when the refs are against you. A couple of the PK’s, I didn’t see anything, but you can’t tell them their job.”
Merrill trailed the Lumberjacks 3-0 after the second made PK, but cut it to 3-1 when Brian Root crossed the ball into the middle in the 42nd minute and Austin Zettler settled it and netted it.
With the score 4-1 in the 74th minute, Jason Xiong curved a 25-yard free kick perfectly over a four-man wall. Merrill trailed 6-1 late when Riley Sutton put a free kick into the box and Keenan Stellingworth headed it backwards into the goal.
“It’s funny because we had never worked that play before,” Mendoza said. “Riley and Keenan basically set it up on the spot.”
Trent Rathke (9 saves, 4 goals) and Ben Medley (3 S, 2 G) shared goaltending duties.
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West scored twice in the final 8 minutes on Tuesday.
“That was a good game,” Medoza said. “The kids kept trying and didn’t want to give up.”
Zenas Lee scored three times for West including a PK with eight seconds left.
Rathke made 12 saves.
Merrill was 4-16-3 overall and 0-12 in the WVC heading into Tuesday’s playoff opener in Hortonville.