Bluejay boys soccer struggles in Wausau
The Merrill boys soccer team traveled to Wausau East and West last week, taking on two conference opponents in the Lumberjacks and the Warriors. Merrill competed well against East, however would end up dropping both games.
Merrill showed improvement last season, losing to Wausau East 5-0 early in the year, then holding them to only one goal in their second match-up of the season. Unfortunately Merrill didn’t see that growth against West in 2018, falling to the Warriors 3-0 and 5-0.
Against Wausau East on Tuesday, Sept. 3, the Jays struggled in the first half of action, allowing two goals. However, the Jays began to find a rhythm and were able to find the back of net just three minutes before halftime, making it a 2-1 game.
“The game started a little slow for us, and we lacked communication in the first half,” stated Merrill head coach William Bialecki. “That along with our inexperience created a few early chances for East and they scored twice early on. We adjusted to the faster pace of the game, as compared to our non-conference opponents, and Jacob Butler scored a great goal for us in the final three minutes of the half.”
According to coach Bialecki, the second half of play was much more tightly contested, with neither team showing a clear advantage. Eventually the Lumberjacks found the back of the net again, extending their lead to 3-1 and holding on for the win.
“We had moments where we connected really well, and created really good scoring chances,” added Bialecki. “In the second half we stepped up and played very well. East managed to score once on us, but overall it was dead even statistically and to my eye in the second half.”
Merrill totaled 14 shots in the game, with six of them on goal, but only one finding the net. East shot the ball 21 times, with nine shots on goal and three of those shots finding the back of the net.
Jays fall to Warriors
On Thursday, Sept. 5, the Jays traveled to Wausau West for a showdown with the Warriors. Merrill played West tough and made them earn everything, however the Jays would lose by a score of 5-0.
Coming into the game, Merrill knew it would be a challenging game, facing a team that only allowed 12 conference goals in 2018, while scoring 21.
“West is a team that has the potential to run away with the Wisconsin Valley championship this season,” said Merrill head coach William Bialecki. “We knew it was going to be a big challenge for us.”
According to Bialecki, an hour and a half lightning delay made the Jays come out a little sluggish, however it wouldn’t take long for them to settle in. West took an early lead, scoring off a rebound. West added two more goals in the first half to take a 3-0 lead into halftime. Coming out of the half Merrill stepped up their defensive pressure and made it tough on the Warriors offense.
“Despite their goals, West didn’t get to play the game on their terms,” added Bialecki. “Our guys recognized that high pressure and being active in the defensive half slowed their attack. None of their goals were easy, and several came from second or third rebounds inside a crowd.”
West eventually scored two more goals to seal the 5-0 win. The Warriors out-shot the Jays 24 to 6, with 12 of Wausau’s shots going on target, compared to Merrill’s two.
Despite the big difference on the scoreboard, coach Bialecki was happy with his teams mentality.
“I’m not happy we gave up five goals,” said Bialecki, “But I was pleased that we played aggressive and our guys let them know we really don’t care who we face, they are going to have a fight on their hands if we’re on the field. I’m excited to see them again in a couple weeks when we are a few weeks deeper into our training and conditioning.”