What a difference a few days of rest, followed by an outdoor practice, made for the Lakeland girls’ soccer team, as the banged-up bodies recovered in time for Tuesday night’s match-up with Mosinee.
After playing six games in six days last week and seeing the bench depleted by injuries and illness, the T-Bird booters played their best game of the season on both ends of the field, handing Great Northern Conference opponent Mosinee a 4-0 blanking at home.
Although the sun teased coming out, the air still was chilly, so the best way to stay warm was to keep moving, which is just what coach Rhonda Maulson wanted to see.
“Tonight was a good game for us. We got some goal scoring and worked on some patterns that we ran in practice on Monday,” Maulson said. “I felt that we were a bit more comfortable passing the ball offensively and players were moving around, making them harder to defend.”
The Thunderbirds struck early when Clara Schroeder was able to get by a defender in the box, took a pass from Greta Saulic and put it in the net at 8:41.
Saulic also set up Lakeland’s second goal at 14:50, scored by Sierra Ouimette.
“Greta made a nice pass to Sierra as she made a run to goal from the left side and one-timed the shot to the far post,” Maulson said.
After taking the 2-0 lead into the half, Lakeland quickly showed that the 10 minutes off didn’t let them cool down.
Minutes into the second half, Haley Farrell cleared the ball up to Macey Smith on the right side, who then got off a shot that went far post before hitting the post and going in. The goal came 2:20 into the second half.
Schroeder added some insurance later in the half, heading in the last goal of the game at 26:40 off of a corner kick by Maggie Sasse. It was Lakeland’s first header goal of the season – and well-earned – as Schroeder didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver with the ball, thanks to man-to-man coverage from Mosinee.
The 4-0 score held to the finale, and Lakeland earned the shut-out victory.
Maulson remarked on the big game from both Schroeder and Saulic, and said Sasse performed well when handed corner kick duties.
“It was nice to see Greta step up and create scoring opportunities for us. Clara was able to beat her defender on her first goal as well as beat her to the ball on Maggie’s corner kick,” Maulson said. “Clara usually takes our corner kicks, but Maggie took them tonight and she sent great balls to the middle of the box. We had some other great opportunities on her corner kicks but weren’t able to finish them.”
Maulson said offensively the team played a smart game.
“Players were really working on movement and creating scoring opportunities. Macey Smith played a nice game, opening up space in our offensive third of the field,” Maulson said. “Greta had a good game, providing a lot of hustle that tends to wear down defensive players. She is very aggressive and causes a lot of defensive turnovers.”
Schroeder is now third in the GNC with five goals and 13 points (updated through May 8). Her three assists are tied for first in that category.
Despite the shutout, Maulson said she wasn’t totally pleased with the defensive effort.
“I thought we didn’t come out aggressive enough, we were allowing Mosinee too much space to shoot the ball in the first half and they had a few scoring opportunities,” she said. “We talked at halftime about tightening up defensively and I thought we were much better the second half, not allowing Mosinee to get down to Brina (Trapp) too often.”
Trapp tops the GNC leaderboard with a 0.963 save percentage and 0.24 goals-against average (through May 8).
Mosinee ended with two shots on goal, while Lakeland had eight.
“This is the first game we scored four goals so after four goals we switched some players up. We had a pretty tough emotional and physical week last week, so it was nice to come out and score some goals and have some fun switching up positions at the end of the game,” Maulson said.
She said the team will work on some more offensive patterns this week in practice and put them into action against Antigo on Thursday.
“I liked the improvements I saw today so I’m looking forward to see what we can do as we head into the next few games, especially the tough games we have coming up next week,” Maulson said.
The win put the Thunderbirds at 6-6-3 overall, and 4-1-2 and in third place in the GNC.
Jamie Taylor may be reached at email@example.com.