After an up and down weekend in Green Bay, the Lakeland girls' soccer team returned home to take on Antigo Thursday night, who the Thunderbirds downed easily in a 8-0 rout.
Lakeland started quickly, scoring within the opening five minutes. Olivia Killian knocked the ball in from a cross by Sydney Ziebart to go through Antigo keeper Emma Brown's hands.
It was nearly another half an hour of time before Lakeland scored again. Killian crossed the ball to Erika Intrepidi, who scored at 31:14. The goal began Lakeland's consistency of form they kept throughout the remainer of the game.
Intrepidi goaled a second time at 40:17 in the opening half, making a free kick from outside the box, hitting the upper corner of the goal.
Ziebart added a fourth goal for the Thunderbirds in the final minutes at 43:40 to put Lakeland up 4-0 at halftime.
But while they finished the half strong, Lakeland was sluggish throughout the opening minutes of the game.
"We started out very slow," head coach Stephanize Hartzheim said of the opening half. "We started out playing the game that we have not been practicing. Just kicking the ball, not looking for those passes. You could even tell by the first half, we were just slow. We didn't go to the ball, we weren't finding each other."
But the second 45 minutes was much stronger for the Thunderbirds.
"Second half, we picked it up. I don't know if it was what I said, but we picked it up," Hartzheim said. "We were actually taking our time, finding feet, practicing finding those feet, making sure we were distributing the ball to people that were open and not just booting the ball. That was our goal for the second half, really working those kinds of passes."
Lakeland resumed their scoring ways at 12:38 in the second half, with a cross from Morgan Courtney to Killian to score her third goal of the game.
Ziebart scored her second goal of the night less than four minutes later at 16:11 from a pass by Alayna Twelmeyer to extend the Thunderbird lead to six.
A drop ball from Abby Paris to Courtney to score over Brown from outside the box at 25:44 added a seventh goal for Lakeland.
Ziebart scored her third goal of the game at 37:31 at the top of the box from Intrepidi to give Lakeland an 8-0 lead that would finish the game.
The Thunderbirds had 21 shots on goal, with 28 shots total.
Goalkeeper Clair Kaminski recorded three saves throughout the night.
And while the game was strongly in favor of the Thunderbirds, Hartzheim said it wasn't a surprise.
"Antigo doesn't have two teams and they only have about 12-15 girls total on their team, so it's usually a higher scoring game for us," she said. "It was nice for us because we got to get in a lot of players that don't usually play. Megan Farrell scored a goal, which was nice to see her score. It was nice to see how the other girls worked with those who do play a little bit more."
What the team took from the weekend tournament in Green Bay was a mixture of passing and possession.
"But like I said, in the first half, it didn't work out. Second half, it did," Hartzheim said. "We played that easy pass instead of for the more complex pass. That's really what we worked on all week at practice. We didn't do a of shooting, we didn't do a lot of finishing."
But shooting and finishing are what the T-Birds will next need to work on, Hartzheim said.
"Because when we had some beautiful crosses, there was no one on the back post to finish. We had a couple breakaways and we couldn't finish those because our touches were too hard," she said. "Making sure that we are finishing in games where we may not have a lot of opportunities to shoot."
She also said she wants to avoid more slow starts in the future.
"I feel like every game has been a slow start. I guess I need to sit them down and talk a little more before we start the game or have meetings before we even get on the field to warm up, getting them to focus a little bit more before they start playing," she said.
The Thunderbirds next travel to Ashland tonight for another Great Northern Conference game.
Ben Gauger may be reached via email at email@example.com.