Early season growing pains for Bluejay soccer
In the wake of an uplifting 3-2 win over Iola-Scandinavia in the season opener on April 1, the Bluejay Girls Soccer squad returned to the field April 4 in
their 2017 WVC debut at D.C Everest. Unfortunately the outcome would be far from what the ladies were hoping for as the Evergreens took them on a 9-0 trip to the shed.
“We ran into a buzz saw against Everest,” comments head coach Kyle Hahn.
“With the way that team passes and moves off the ball, I’d be very surprised if they don’t win the conference with ease and take state this year at the division 1 level.
“After giving up the first goal about 7 minutes in, our girls did well to keep them off the board for the next 20 minutes or so. After that we couldn’t find enough consistency defensively and
Everest was able to keep breaking us down. It’s hard to play in games like this, but our goal was to use it as motivation for our other Valley games rather than let it knock us down and defeat us.”
It gave us a clear understanding of where we need to improve and provided us with an opportunity to be a bit reflective after going 2-1 the previous week,” he adds.
“We’re looking forward to working hard and improving so we can put in a better performance against Everest when they come to town later in the season.”
‘Evening’ it up with East
Last Thursday, the ladies returned to their home turf of Jay Stadium in another Valley showdown with Wausau-East and broke even with the Jacks 1-1.
After trailing East since around the 11 minute mark, Mae Litschauer (Ast:Ally Tabor) tied it up for the Jays at 86:19 mark in the second half.
“This game was a tale of two halves,” Hahn said.
“Our girls came out pretty hot in the first ten minutes or so, but East capitalized on a defensive mistake around the 12 minute mark and it seemed to take the wind out of our sails. After the goal, we couldn’t find a rhythm, weren’t very composed on the ball, had trouble connecting passes, our communication was non-existent, and we labored heavily to create any sort of attacking opportunity. Halftime gave us an opportunity to hit the reset button and it seemed to work. We touched on getting back to basics and making the game simple during the break and the girls responded tremendously.”
“Everything that was going wrong in the first half improved after the break. We had a couple of chances to tie it up earlier in the second half, but our breakthrough ultimately came in the
87th minute when Mae found a way to get on the end of a ball that Ally put into the box. East’s keeper came out to make a challenge, but Mae was able to get there first and poke it home. Our bench went nuts and rightly so. We had every right to be in this game against East even with our poor first half. While it would’ve been nice to get a win in this game, a tie is nothing to sniff at and will serve us well in digging deep and finding a way to make things happen against other Valley opponents.”
Goalie Kaylee Bowe finished the day with 5 saves of 6 shots on goal.
Rough Day at Rapids
Last Saturday, the Jays hit the road bound for Wisconsin Rapids-Lincoln High School and the Wisconsin Rapids Invitational Tournament.
Luck once again would stay just out of reach for the ladies as they fell to 1-0 to Eau Claire North and 3-1 to Onalaska.
Litschauer and Tabor came through for the Jays once again versus Onalaska, scoring Merrill’s only goal close to the 87 minute mark.
Goalie Maria Lane finished the day with 9 saves of 17 shots on goal. while Bowe finished with 4.
“Our girls played really well against a tough opponent in Eau Claire North,” Hahn stated.
“Last season we lost to them 3-0 in the same tournament, so this year’s scoreline points toward some obvious improvement. This was Maria Lane’s first game in varsity net and she did an
outstanding job being aggressive and coming off her line and commanding the box. North even tried to run her over a few different times after she gained possession of the ball, but Maria
just kept getting up. We were missing some attacking fire power in this game with one of our starters missing the tournament for a family trip and another for a family wedding. I think the
players that stepped in did a great job, though. Ally (Tabor) came in and played up top as a forward. She did a great job of harassing North’s defenders and you could tell her confidence on the ball grew with every touch.”
“The Onalaska game was another good game despite the final result. At 1-0 down, we lost Maria in net after a collision with an Onalaska forward left her unable to continue the game.
Shortly after we restarted and tied it up, Onalaska caught us being a bit nonchalant in the defensive third and scored off of a through ball put between our central defenders. Kaylee came out well to contest the shot, but Onalaska’s forward finished coolly. After their second goal, we tightened up a bit defensively and started connecting strings of passes through the midfield into the attacking third.”
“Unfortunately, we just weren’t able to generate enough offensively to put the ball into the back of the net. The last goal we gave up was a bit unfortunate, especially as there was only
about 2 minutes left in the game. Kaylee made a great initial save to keep the ball out, but because of the power behind the shot it went up and over her head and into the net. She did a
great job filling in for Maria for a good portion of this game. She was aggressive off her line and made some good saves to keep us in the game.”
The Jays resume action Tuesday when they head to Wausau-West for a bout with the Warriors. Game time is set for 5 PM at West High School.