Bluejay soccer off to a hot start
By Jared Schmeltzer
The Merrill boys soccer team is off to a blistering start in 2019, winning their first two games by a combined eight goals. The Jays started the season with a 5-1 win over Green Bay West and kept their momentum going, defeating Antigo 4-0 on Thursday night, Aug. 29.
The start the the Jays 2019 is reminiscent of their 2018 season, where they opened up the year with a 4-1 win over Lakeland, before hosting Antigo and grabbing a 4-0 win. However in 2019 Merrill will look to keep the winning ways going, as in 2018 they would go winless the rest of the season.
In Antigo on Thursday, the Jays dominated the first half of action, shooting the ball over 15 times with four shots finding the back of the net. The second half of play saw just as many opportunities for the Jays, however they would come up empty.
“The game went well,” said Merrill’s first year head coach Will Bialecki. “It wasn’t great, but it went well. We had a bunch of opportunities to score in both halves, we are getting to the right spots, we are still refining our finishing but we are getting there.”
The Merrill defense was very tough throughout the game, only allowing Antigo a few shots on goal.
“Our defense played really fast,” added Bialecki. “Antigo had a few chances, but our guys on the back end really played well. We had a few penalties on us in the first half, but played a lot cleaner in the second. Our goalie Wyatt Grosskurth, had only two shots he needed to save. The first one was a good shot and he made a great save and the other save was pretty routine for him.”
Jays defeat G.B. West
On Tuesday, Aug. 27, the Merrill soccer team traveled to Green Bay for a match up with the West side high school. Merrill took control of the game early and built on their lead to take the 5-1 win.
Jared Heller got the Jays on the board first, scoring a goal at the 9:09 mark, with Geno Zecca assisting. Green Bay then tied the game right before halftime, with a goal coming at 44:36.
Coming out of halftime Merrill caught fire, as Eli Duerkop found the back of the net at the 51:41 mark, with Isaac Sutton assisting. In the 64th minute, a pass from Sutton to Zecca would produce another Bluejay goal, as the Jays extended their lead to 3-1. The 75th minute saw Merrill add another goal to their total, courtesy of Cole Woellner with Cameron Stadler assisting. The Bluejays added their final goal in the 88th minute, as Henry Reimann got himself a goal with Mark Ladewig assisting.
Merrill will match up with Wausau East on Tuesday, Sept. 3, who according to coach Bialecki will be more of a challenge than the first two teams Merrill played.
“East is significantly better than the teams we saw in our first two games,” said Bialecki. “I feel like we match up pretty evenly with them. I believe that two of our next three games are very winnable. We go to East on Tuesday, West on Thursday and Mosinee the next Monday,” explains Bialecki. “East and Mosinee are games where we should be evenly matched, however Wausau West is a very good team and will present a big challenge for us.”