Bluejay soccer makes program history
By Jared Schmeltzer
The Merrill girls soccer team competed three times over the week, with a historic win sandwiched between a pair of losses.
On Thursday the Merrill soccer team went up against conference foe Wisconsin Rapids. It was a low scoring game with Merrill beating Rapids for the first time in program history by a score of 1-0.
“This was a huge game for the girls soccer program,” Coach Kyle Hahn said. “The girls played lights out and made the most of the opportunities they worked so hard for. We did a great job of possessing the ball and did an even better job of suffocating Wisconsin Rapids’ attack.
“Rapids’ best chances of scoring came from corner kicks, but our girls marked well and prevented them from having any clear cut chances,” Hahn added.
Mae Litschauer scored the only goal in the game.
“Mae Litschauer showed everyone why she’ll be playing D2 next fall,” Hahn said. “She helped control the midfield and tempo of the game, creating pockets of space for her teammates and going on mazy runs that oozed confidence on the ball. When push came to shove, she took her chance and lofted an excellent shot over the goalkeeper’s hands and into the upper right corner of the goal.”
Merrill handled by SPASH
Finally getting on the Jay Stadium turf after a prolonged winter, the Merrill girls hosted SPASH last Tuesday. SPASH controlled the game, outscoring the Jays 6-0. SPASH was dominant with the ball on their offensive half of the field for nearly the whole second half of play, as they outshot the Jays 26 to four.
“Despite having a new coach, SPASH is still a solid team and has a heck of a player in Abby Gemza,” Hahn said. “I think they were a bit surprised by how well we were playing with them. It took them almost the entire first half before they were able to stick one in and we had some opportunities of our own.”
Merrill keeper Kaylee Bowe was very busy the whole game as she was able to save 20 shots.
“Kaylee Bowe made a few incredible saves this game and came out on the right end of multiple one-on-ones,” Hahn said. “She’s already staking her claim to improve on her All-WVC honorable mention recognition from last season.”
Can’t get past East
The Bluejays followed up Thursday’s win with a 4-1 loss to Wausau East on Friday.
“Perhaps this game was a case of tired minds and legs,” comments head coach Kyle Hahn. “It’s hard not to wonder if the win against Wisconsin Rapids the previous night sapped most of our mental and physical energy, but ultimately we let ourselves down a bit in this one. We came out flat and East seemed to come out with a point to prove. They scored just before the 12-minute mark of the first half and I think it left our girls shocked.”
Merrill was outshot by Wausau East 15 shots to Merrill’s seven. Despite the seven shots, the Jays were still able to find the back of the net with a goal by Mae Litschauer, assisted by Renee Moonen.
“Mae Litschauer found the goal again off of a pass from Renee Moonen. She ripped a shot that the goalkeeper just couldn’t handle,” adds coach Hahn.
Merrill came out with more energy in the second half of play but it would not be enough.
“We came out better in the start of the second half, but couldn’t catch the break we needed. East took advantage of some pace up front and found the back of the net off a ball over the top. That seemed to take the wind out of our sails and we gave up the third goal by way of a through ball played behind our back four. East’s fourth goal came off of lax marking on a corner kick and a nice volley by the goal scorer.”
Coach Hahn was optimistic about their next game against East.
“The good thing is that all of these issues are fixable and we’ll be working to get things sorted out before we make the short trip down on Tuesday, May 8.”
The Merrill girls soccer team will be back on the field this Thursday as they travel to D.C. Everest for a conference match up against the Evergreens, starting at 7:00 p.m.