Bears freeze out Bluejay kickers
The seventh-seeded Merrill boys were embroiled in a 2-1 battle with #2 Hortonville in last Tuesday’s WIAA playoff opener, but the Polar Bears gave them the cold shoulder with a two-goal second half for a 4-1 win.
“I thought we did better than the other team,” MHS coach Luis Mendoza said. “They probably had five chances and made four goals out of them. We had control of the game for maybe 75 minutes. We had chances but couldn’t score.
“I was proud of the kids. They played with heart. It was great to see them come together as a team and leave everything out on the field. ”
Merrill’s lone goal came with the Jays trailing 2-0 late in the first half. Brian Root dropped a corner kick in front of the goal mouth and the keeper punched it out. But Riley Sutton alertly leaped into the air and headed it home.
Anders Carlson scored the three goals for Hortonville to reach 20 for the season, including a 25-yard free kick for this second of the day.
No goalkeeper stats were available.
The loss closed out a 4-17-3 season and the Jays will graduate eight seniors.
“When I took them I thought we were going to start from scratch, but the kids knew what they were doing,” Mendoza said. “They worked hard and wanted to learn more. It was nice to see them improve so much. I’m just excited for next year.
“We lose some really good players. Even if they didn’t start, they went in and did what they knew. It’s going to be hard to find players to fill their spots.”