Lakeland Union High School girls' soccer entered the weekend looking to find some consistency.
A shutout win against Antigo last Tuesday propelled the Thunderbirds into Thursday's Great Northern Conference tilt against Ashland with some momentum.
The Oredockers entered the game looking to keep pace with Rhinelander for first place in the standings. Lakeland, however, rose to the challenge to score three goals in the second half to spring the 3-1 upset.
After a scoreless first half, the T-Birds struck first less than five minutes into the second.
Erika Intrepidi placed a perfect corner kick right on target and Sydney Ziebart earned the goal with a header.
"That really pumped the girls up," LUHS head coach Stephanie Hartzheim said. "I think that really got them on their toes. They just came out after that goal even stronger and ended up scoring about 12 minutes later."
Lakeland indeed scored again 12 minutes later, as Ziebart struck again, this time on a pass by Olivia Killian.
The goal gave the T-Birds a crucial 2-0 lead in the second half.
"I thought it was huge for us because it put us up two goals and we could play a little more defensively," Hartzheim said. "That's what I kind of told the girls, even though there was a lot of time left in the game. They knew that we had the lead and they knew they couldn't give up at all, even though we were up two goals."
Ashland was able to get on the board in the 75th minute, due to a penalty shot from Sasha Voldberg, much to the ire of the Lakeland bench.
Zoey Ziebart tracked down Voldberg from behind, but the officials viewed it as an opportunity for a penalty shot.
The call did not deter the T-Birds, however, as Intrepidi fed Abby Parris for the nail in the coffin eight minutes later.
"I was extremely happy, especially after some of our other results, where I could see where we would get down on ourselves, but in this game they kept going and kept fighting," Hartzheim said. "Every single person was fighting and there wasn't one person that was stopping."
The win puts Lakeland just three points out of second place in the GNC.
D.C. Everest Invitational
Lakeland looked to keep its momentum going on Saturday as it took part in an invitational at D.C. Everest, but it was not to be.
The T-Birds first dropped a 8-0 game to Eau Claire North, and then 7-0 to host Hustisford later in the day.
"I think we were all still exhausted from Thursday," Hartzheim said. "Not enough time to recover."
Lakeland knew it would be in for a battle against Eau Claire North, but were optimistic about their chances against Hustlsford.
However, already being tired, a shortened bench hurt those chances as Lakeland once again found itself on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
"It's not a letdown, but it was hard on the girls," Hartzheim said. "They came out so hard on Thursday and they know they can play together. Today you could tell they were exhausted and didn't have any energy and both games were full games. So they didn't have much of a break and playing two full games of soccer in one day is really hard. So I think they were just out of energy."
Lakeland (8-8) still has Thursday's win against Ashland to lean on throughout the rest of the season.
The T-Birds proved that when everything is clicking, they can play with some of the best teams in the conference.
"I feel like this is how we came out in the beginning of the season: really strong, connecting our passes and working together," Hartzheim said. "So I know that having this as a reassurance will get them pumped up and I know this week is going to be hard as well, but I hope they have the mindset that in these conference games this week, they need to play just as hard and get these wins."
Lakeland has GNC games on the road this week against Mosinee (Monday), Medford (Tuesday) and Northland Pines (Thursday), before a non-conference match at home against Kingsford on Friday.
Nick Sabato may be reached at nsabato@rivernewsonline. com or via Twitter @Sabato Nick.