Boys soccer continues impressive start to season
By Jared Schmeltzer
On Thursday night the Merrill boys soccer team hosted Hwy. 64 rival Antigo in a non conference match up. The Jays would get an early lead on the Red Robins and add on to it throughout the match to take the 4-0 win in their home opener.
Early in the first half of play Merrill’s Ben Doyle sent a shot at the Antigo goal that was deflected by the keeper, but eventually cleaned up by freshman Geno Zecca to give Merrill the early lead. In the 40th minute Doyle would get himself a goal, ripping a shot past the goalie following a pass from Vanya Thorson.
The 52nd minute saw Merrill extend their lead on the Red Robins with a goal coming from the head of Hayden Smith. A free kick from Hunter Wallace would put Merrill in position, as Wallace kicked a beautiful 30 yard pass to Smith who would then hit the ball with a header off the top post and into the goal for the 3-0 lead. Merrill’s final goal of the game would come from Brendan Root who beat the keeper following a cross from Issac Sutton.
First year head coach Erich Wallace commented on his team’s defense saying, “Our defense kept the ball out of our defending half most of the game as Mason Gebert, senior goalkeeper, only needed to save seven shots.”
Jays tie Menasha
On Friday night Merrill traveled to Menasha, seeking revenge on a team that defeated the Jays 3-0 last year. Merrill battled hard and would come out of the game with a 1-1 tie.
Menasha came out of the gates hot, earning a penalty kick only two minutes into the game which they would finish off to take a 1-0 lead on Merrill. The first half of play would end with Menasha leading Merrill by one goal.
Merrill coach Erich Wallace explained his team’s early hardship in the game saying, “We had lots of opportunities to score in the first half, but could simply not get a bounce to go our way until around the 58th minute.”
In that 58th minute Merrill’s goalie Mason Gebert would punt the ball deep for right wing Issac Sutton, who would then outrun the Menasha defense and strike the ball past their goalie to tie the game at one goal a piece.
Coach Wallace would later add, “Despite many more chances for us and some for Menasha as well, the game ended in a draw. We outshot the Menasha boys 23-17. Defenders Hayden Smith, Cole Woellner, Christian Matson and Caleb Novitch all played 90 minutes and did a stellar job stopping their attack.”
Merrill will be back on the field for a conference match up against Wausau East on Thursday, with the game starting at 5 p.m. at East.